Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick
FTC Disclosure: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Summary from the back of the book:
HERE COMES THE SON . . .
Rich is fifteen and plays guitar. When his girlfriend asks him to perform at a 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 a Woodstock, and the girl’s band of friends include his fifteen-year-old dad and his uncle, who is still alive. What Rich learns, who he meets, and what he does could change his life forever.”
I am a HUGE fan of Jordan Sonnenblick. I have been ever since my oldest son’s school selected Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie as an all school read a few years ago. So when I heard that he was offering an ARC of his newest book, I could hardly type fast enough to submit my request for a copy.
Sonnenblick creates a compelling story that engages the reader from the first word. I read this book in two days. (I would have managed it one if, I hadn’t had to go to work.) I seriously did not want to put it down.
Being born on an Army Base in 1969, Sonnenblick isn’t old enough to have experienced Woodstock first hand. (Oh, for my students, neither am I.) Based on everything that I have read about that weekend in 1969, Sonnenblick did an excellent job of capturing that time. Even though there is time travel involved, this story is really more historical fiction.
I especially liked how Rich grows through his adventures and gains an understanding of his father. It’s a bit unusual for a 15 year old to be so wise, but Sonnenblick made it totally believable.
Much of Sonnenblick’s work deals with rather serious issues with a touch of humor. While, not a total downer, Are You Experienced? does not have the same humorous touch as his other work. It wouldn’t fit. The feel of this book is perfect, serious without being totally depressing..
Just in case you are thinking that I’m gushing just because the author gave me an ARC of his new book and even signed it, let me put your mind at ease. I frequently receive free books, so I’m not going to compromise my reviews just to get another one. It’s been a bit of a tough reading year for me and some of the books I’ve had to read (when you are a school librarian you have to read a lot of material just to be able to talk knowledgeably with your students) have been very painful to slog through. Fortunately, I was sent three different books this summer for me to review and each one has made my summer read-a-thon a joy. Are You Experienced? is one of those books. It was a good read for how it made me feel and because I know that when it is published in September it will be a perfect recommendation for several of my students who have moved on to Middle and High Schools. My oldest son I mentioned earlier – can’t wait for it to be published. He refuses to read my copy since it’s signed. I guess I’ll be buying him an early Christmas present.