Purple Daze is a young adult novel set in suburban Los Angeles in 1965. Six high school students share their experiences and feelings in interconnected free verse and traditional poems about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, high school, and friendship.
Although there have been verse novels published recently, none explore the changing and volatile 1960's in America— a time when young people drove a cultural and political revolution. With themes like the costs and casualties of war, the consequences of sex, and the complex relationships between teens, their peers, and their parents, this story is still as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.
This book blew me away! I thought that I had read all the different versions of 1960's youth portrayals & that this would fall under the category of "been there, done that, got the t-shirt." I'll be the first to admit, I was way wrong.
We are introduced to the six main characters who are all loosely related to one another & who all represent different movements (for lack of a better word) from this time period. We have feminism, drug use, anti-war protesting, draftees serving in Vietnam & a whole slew of other things. These teens are at the most pivotal points in their lives where they are branching out of the "safety" of their parental homes & really discovering who they are & what they are willing to fight for in their lives.
The 1960s was a turbulent era because the youth were going in divergent directions. Specifically, this book takes place in 1965 (after the assassination of JFK) & so these teens we're following have experienced a great trauma & are insecure in regards to the future. Not only are they experiencing social & political upheaval, but even the music is "dangerous." Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix... just to name a few. Watching these teens choose their own paths based on their personal experiences was mesmerizing. And never fear if you aren't a history buff, there is more than enough context clues & subtle hints to help you understand what's going on.
Simply put, this book is profound. It will challenge what you think you know about an adolescence during this time & help you to understand why it is such a pivotal time in this nation's history. A tremendous read, I can't wait to buy a finished copy. I leave you with a song dripping with history.
ARC kindly provided by the author.