Review: My Beautiful Hippie

My Beautiful HippieMy Beautiful Hippie

by Janet Nichols Lynch  New York: Holiday House (2013)

ISBN: 9780823426034

The author’s ability to bring the reader into the ’60’s without handing out the same old canned psychedelic drugs and crazy clothes really brings this book to life. As the story unfolds, it is a very sweet coming of age journey which happens to take place near the Haight-Ashbury district of the early 1960’s as it blossoms from a working middle-class San Francisco neighborhood into the hot-bed of hippie culture. The real discovery here for readers is that the characters typify the 1960’s in a way that feels real. The older generation with its 1950’s traditional values and expectations within society’s norms, women just beginning to see the power of education and equal rights in the workplace (and the bedroom), the emergence of folk rock music, 1960’s politics and the Civil Rights Movement and political assassinations, the conflict in Vietnam as it looms over the young men and women in the story who must consider its impact as they make their first adult decisions in life, and our narrator who finds herself in the middle of it – too young to experience everything but too old not to want to try. And of course, how can she resist the free love of a beautiful hippie?! The year 1967 brought more than just the “Summer of Love” and the dynamic impact it had on all levels of society is illuminated in this read. It came and went the way a high school crush does, leaving behind a changed landscape inside and out. An easy read for upper grade students, particularly reluctant or struggling readers.

Quantitative: Lexile Level 780 (High-Low level reader)

Qualitative: YA historical fiction novel written in a very accessible vocabulary level (High-Low) with high-interest content for older readers. Some complex themes and references to historical contexts which are explained within the text, allow students to understand the context and appreciate the time period as it impacts the characters in the story. References to the Women’s Liberation Movement, Sigmund Freud study of human sexuality, the assassination of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the use of psychedelic drugs are all here.  Some of the content is of a sexual nature and the language complexity is a solid UG level for YA readers age 14 and over.

Content Area: English, Social Science: US History – 1960’s; State History – California

Common Core Standards: L.9-10.1 – L.9-10.6; RL.9-10.1-RL.9-10.9

Additional/Digital Resources:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/love/

https://www.google.com/search?q=hippies+in+san+francisco&espv=210&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=H-KgUs7XKYLjoASunIKgAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CCoQsAQ&biw=1680&bih=885#es_sm=93&espv=210&q=hippies+in+san+francisco+1967&tbm=isch

Personal Note: The book is well-written and the setting of San Francisco is fully explored with the detail of a local eye which gives the reader a feel for the city that is authentic and leaves an imprint in the mind.

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