In this conclusion to Wiles’s Sixties Trilogy, which riffs on the music of the era, two cousins, Molly and Norman, head from Charleston to San Francisco in June 1969. They’re trying to locate Molly’s missing brother, Barry, who left after a fight with their father over U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and has now been summoned by letter to report for his pre-draft physical. As in her first two volumes, Countdown and Revolution, Wiles’s prodigious research informs the narrative, and each of five sections is introduced with photomontages, excerpts from news stories and speeches, and song lyrics. The jam-packed novel is long but adventurous as Norman insists on stopping frequently to feed his burgeoning interest in rock ’n’ roll and jazz; along the way, the cousins meet the likes of the Allman Brothers and Elvis and deliver some cymbals to Capitol Records in Los Angeles. If readers can get past the idea that the cousins’ mothers support Molly, 14, and Norman, 17, driving a rickety school bus cross-country to bring Barry home, they’ll have one hell of a nostalgia-driven road trip in store. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Praise for The Sixties Trilogy #1:Countdown:* "Wiles skillfully keeps many balls in the air, giving readers a story that appealsacross the decades as well as offering enticing paths into the history." Booklist, starred review* "The larger story . . . told here in an expert coupling of text and design, is how lifeendures, even triumphs, no matter how perilous the times." Horn Book, starredreview* "References to duct tape (then newly invented), McDonald's and other pop culturelend authenticity to this phenomenal story of the beginnings of radical change inAmerica." Kirkus Reviews, starred review* "Wiles palpably recreates the fear kids felt when air-raid sirens and duck-and-coverdrills were routine . . . this story is sure to strike a chord with those living throughtough times today." Publishers Weekly, starred reviewPraise for The Sixties Trilogy #2: Revolution:*"With elements of family drama and coming of age themes that mirror the larger sociopolitical backdrop, Revolution is a book that lingers long after the last page." School Library Journal, starred review* "1960s words and images still sound and resound in this triumphant middle volume of the author's Sixties Trilogy." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Gr 5–8—This third volume of Wiles's "Sixties Trilogy" evokes the conflicts, chaos, and deep emotions occurring in 1969 during the United States' controversial involvement in the Vietnam War. A fictional story follows Molly, 14, and Norman, 17, two cousins driving across the country in a school bus from Charleston, SC, to San Francisco to bring back Molly's brother Barry, who ran away to escape the draft. A wide-ranging collection of primary source documents—photographs, quotes, newspaper articles—help readers understand the historical context with its complex voices. The result is a "documentary novel" of great impact. Over time, Molly and Norman grow as they encounter people with different experiences and viewpoints—an army deserter, an interracial couple, a gay couple who are war veterans—and integrate these experiences into their worldview. They see black people and white people eating together, come across people living in a commune, and meet a variety of people from the music world. Molly learns to think more deeply about racial relations. Norman develops greater self-confidence and the ability to judge character. Their bond deepens as they mature. Music pervades the narrative, mirroring how it (according to the author's note) "saturated, permeated, buoyed, and informed Everything." VERDICT This is a book that takes root in readers' mind and stays there. A gripping read with a satisfying conclusion.—Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York
Two teenagers take a road trip—searching for a fugitive family member and finding…America.
It's June 1969. Hints that her estranged but beloved big brother, Barry, has fetched up in San Francisco prompt 14-year-old Molly to enlist their fledgling-drummer cousin, Norman, 17, as driver and (with the collusion of their newly liberated moms) head west from Charleston in an old school bus. Quickly turning into anything but a straight run, the journey plunges the naïve but resilient travelers into a succession of youth-culture hot spots from Atlanta's funky Strip to a commune in New Mexico, with stops at renowned recording studios and live-music venues. Wiles opens and closes this musically and culturally immersive road trip with extensive montages of period news photos, quotes, headlines, and lyrics, scatters smaller documentary sheaves throughout, and enriches the song titles at each chapter head with production notes. The glittering supporting cast includes famed session musician Hal Blaine, Duane Allman, Elvis, and Wavy Gravy. While leaving the era's more-conservative, racist majority visible but at a remove from her white protagonists, the author introduces them to an interracial couple with a baby and a same-sex couple of Vietnam vets. In the end, Barry's fate takes on minor significance next to the profound changes the trip has wrought on their hearts and minds.
No sex or drugs—but plenty of live, heady rock-'n'-roll. (author's note, timeline, several bibliographies) (Historical fiction. 11-13)