Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick, for Timeslip Tuesday

I don't think I would liked to have been at Woodstock (don't like crowds, though I would have liked to hear some of the music live), so it is a good thing that I am not the main character of Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick (Feiwel & Friends, 2013).   Rich, who is the main character, is a 15-year-old guitar playing boy of today who loves the music of Woodstock, isn't getting very far with his girlfriend (she says he's too inexperienced), and who is starting to rebel against the oppressive smothering of his over protective, distant father.  A much better candidate.   When Rich finds Jimi Hendrix's guitar in his dad's basement retreat, disregards the enigmatic note of warning fastened to it, and starts to play, he is catapulted back 44 years just in time to be hit by a car on its way to Woodstock--a car that is being driven by his uncle Michael, with Michael's hippy teen girlfriend and his own dad--himself 15 years old.

So Woodstock happens, and Rich is there, with the strange and wonderful opportunity to get to know his dad before his life went wrong.   Rich knows what's going to happen--in just a few weeks, Michael will be dead of a heroin overdose.   But there's nothing he can do, there at Woodstock, but listen...to the music, and to the people there sharing blanket in the mud with him, doing all the wild and crazy things teenagers did back then....

What with all the details throwing up and drugs and lack of privacy when people were displaying affection, as well as more ordinary details of what they were eating, it felt very much like actually being there in the rain with them all.   I was surprised, therefore, by how gripping and even enjoyable I found the book-enjoyable not because it was happy good times, but because it was actually the opposite.  The book is quite a serious, character-driven story about what led Michael down the deadly path he took, and the reverberations of that choice.

Short answer--it worked.  And the time travel part, though somewhat zany with regard to its cause (magic guitar), framed the story nicely.  Sonnenblick did a nice job of letting the 21st century reader see Woodstock through 21st century eyes, while at the same time showing what it meant to the people who were there.  

Here are other reviews at Ms. Yingling Reads and proseandkahn

1 comment:

  1. I, too, felt the world building was beyond awesome. It was a sad but gripping book!


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