Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What An Experience

Published:  September 3rd, 2013
Are You Experienced?
By: Jordan Sonnenblick
Feiwel & Friends
ISBN-13:  9781250025647
Rich is fifteen and plays guitar. When his girlfriend asks him to perform at protest rally, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, the police show up, and so does Rich’s dad. He’s in big trouble. Again. To make matters worse, this happens near the anniversary of his uncle’s death from a drug overdose years ago. Rich’s dad always gets depressed this time of year, but whenever Rich asks questions about his late uncle, his dad shuts down.

Frustrated by his dad’s silence, Rich sneaks into his office and breaks into a locked cabinet that holds his dad’s prized possession: an electric guitar signed by Jimi Hendrix. Before he knows it, Rich is transported to the side of a road in Upstate New York with a beautiful girl bending over him. It will take him a while to realize it’s 1969, he’s at Woodstock, and the girl’s band of friends includes his fifteen-year-old dad and his uncle, who’s still alive. What Rich learns, who he meets, and what he does could change his life forever.
     Rich is fifteen and loves playing his guitar.  This time is gets him in trouble, when he plays at a rally not realizing it's for the legalization of marijuana and he gets himself arrested.  His Mom and Dad are a lot older that any of his friend's parents and Rich's Dad is especially hard on him, because his brother (Rich's Uncle) died of a drug overdose when they were teenagers.  After a really horrible fight, Rich breaks into his Dad's office and finds a signed guitar from Jimi Hendrix.  When he plays it he's electrocuted and transported to a road in New York.  Picked up by his Dad, his Uncle and his Uncle's girlfriend, Rich goes to Woodstock with them for the concert of a lifetime.  But is there anything that Rich can even do to change the past and prevent a tragic end?  Or will things still happen the exact same way?
     Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have an extremely unholy addiction to books dealing with time travel!  And as someone who is more into folk and 60s rock than any other music (besides 90s pop/rock - it's a weakness!), Woodstock appeals to my inner mellowed-out hippie.  I liked that Jordan started out the book with the flashbacks so we could see how Rich even got to Woodstock and the family dynamic leading up to his decisions.  The relationship between Rich and his Father was especially difficult, because Rich wants to connect with him more than anything.  But he feels like his Dad is living in the past and holding too tightly to the leftover hurt from his brother overdosing.  Rich feels like he's getting smothered as a result.  Further into the book we learn the reasoning for a lot of the life choices and personality traits of Rich's Dad (a major one being his own really fucked up home life and parents), which lets us really understand just how hard it is for him to relax and let Rich make his own mistakes.
     Rich starts off the novel being kind of spoiled and sheltered without realizing it on the level it actually exists on.  The relationships that he builds over the weekend at Woodstock with his Uncle Michael, Willow (Mike's girl) and David (his Dad) were really in depth for being as sudden as they were.  Being picked up naked on the side of the road and thrown into a completely different subculture definitely gives Rich a different perspective.  There are some lighter moments and Rich's inadvertent experience with drugs definitely shakes up the narrative of the book a little bit.  The music is really a major driving force behind the plot though and the meeting with Janis Joplin was pretty cool.  Really the major one though was the life-changing conversations that Rich has with Jimi Hendrix about drugs, life and legacy.  The destruction of heroin use is shown in this book, without being overly graphic.  I liked the revelation about why Mike ended up dead and what he was trying to avoid.  I won't say anything else cause I don't want to give it away, but it made my heart hurt.  All in all, the fantasy elements get a little out of control at times but this was a really well written book that I highly enjoyed.  Definitely interesting to see a teenager get the chance to become best friends with his own Dad when he was a teen.  The conclusion of the book was slightly clichéd but it was a nice ending and made sense for it.  If you're into music, time travel and history (in that order) I'd recommend reading it.  As much as I liked it, the connection I felt wasn't all that personal and that's why the rating is what it is.
VERDICT:  3.75/5 Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on September 3rd, 2013.*

1 comment:

  1. I found out about this book earlier this month and I was like !?!?!?! It sounds so good!! I love the whole idea of it... very creative. I like your review... it definitely made me want to read it even more :)


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