Gene Steen is an earnest, intelligent, truth-seeking teen stuck in a suburban cultural wasteland. He wants to be a hippie in the worst way, but hippies are scarce on the ground in the forlorn Midwest of Gene’s 15th year. Then, propitiously on the Summer Solstice, his life is turned upside down by the arrival of his lively, lovely, long-lost cousin Lucy. She’s hip beyond Gene’s wildest dreams and immediately takes him under her wing. Lucy teaches Gene that being a hippie isn’t about love beads and peace signs, but about the choices you make and the stands you take. Yet for all her airy insights into religion, philosophy and “the isness of it all,” Lucy harbors dark secrets – secrets that will soon put her on the run, with Gene by her side.
I’ve really hit the jackpot lately with books I’ve accepted for review. Lucy in the Sky as such an enchanting read and I felt like I was instantly transported back in time into Gene’s world, and the tumultuous political climate of the late sixties. Young Gene Steen’s voice was so authentic and so believable, I had no problems falling right into this story.
When Gene’s long lost hippie cousin Lucy arrives unexpectedly to spend the summer with his family, Gene is mesmerized by her. But he soon finds that his cousin is harboring some deep secrets, and there is much more to her than he originally thought. She is not as perfect as he would like to believe, and in the midst of everything, Gene embarks on a journey that helps him discover who he is.
The suburbs of the 70’s, and the mundane everyday life of the middle class come to life in this story. It’s not often I read a book through the eyes of a teen male, but Gene’s sarcastic approach, and introspective way, made reading through his eyes such a joy. I love Lucy’s very trippy, yet enlightened manner. Though she operated very much at a higher consciousness, Lucy was a real and well-rounded character because she was still damaged, had numerous flaws, and a saddening past. Gene was extremely affected by his cousin, her thoughts, and ideas, and he felt like being around her made him cooler and better. But I feel like Gene already had greatness in him, and Lucy was just the catalyst he needed to help bring it forth.
The trouble these two find themselves embroiled in is dangerous and exciting and heart stopping at times. There were several times Lucy in the Sky induced a real adrenaline rush and made me admire and respect the bravery and persistence of Gene. While Gene was grateful that Lucy came into his life, it is my belief that Lucy is the more fortunate one out of the pair. There would have been no one else more loyal and dedicated to her well being than Gene.
Lucy in the Sky is a beautiful coming of age story featuring great atmosphere, an unpredictable plot, and lovable, memorable characters. Vorhaus did an excellent job of capturing the volatile times of the sixties, and embodied the voice of young Gene perfectly.
***Please join me here tomorrow for a guest post by Mr. John Vorhaus himself!***
Filed in: Reviews, Young Adult Tags: Fiction, John Vorhaus, Review, Young Adult