Don't Think Twice.
Grades 9 - 12 / Ages 14 - 17.
In 1967, Jan Carlson is growing up in Sierra Vista, California, a conservative farming town where "the biggest news...was whichever fruit was in season." But, the Vietnam War is raging, brothers of classmates are drafted, and the daily pledge of allegiance becomes a daily test of conscience. A talented musician, Jan is waiting for graduation and a chance to leave, to re-invent herself at college, and to connect with others, "everybody working together to change the world." Her world changes forever with the arrival of Tim and Rob Crowther and their social- activist parents.
Aunt Chris was on the phone: she hung up and beckoned me over to the window. "Jan," she said, "they've got a VW."
That caught my interest. You didn't see many Volkswagens in Sierra Vista, then. As we stood at the window, I remember her hair gleaming in the sun. I was so jealous of her - such beautiful blonde hair, and so popular. I always felt invisible.
A blue-and-white VW microbus was parked next door - practically a twin to ours, a red-and-white 1961 model. An orange moving van was in their driveway. The only people we could see were the movers and a middle-aged couple.
Twenty-five years later, Jan is an American expatriate, living in Canada, worried sick about the fate of her youngest daughter, Lisa. Like her mother, Lisa has left home under difficult circumstances. Trying to reach her runaway daughter, and perhaps, to reach back to that quietly rebellious teenage that she, herself, was, Jan writes the long letter which tells her own story. It is every middle-aged parent's and every teenager's story: by turns, reflective, angry, emotionally raw, sad, and at times, sweetly nostalgic. If you didn't grow up in the 1960's, you'll experience it, nonetheless: listen to "Louie, Louie" and the Doors at the high school dances, see the Crowthers' 1961 VW mini-van, and sear your lungs with the acrid smoke of burning marijuana. Still, Don't Think Twice is no mere 60's nostalgia trip; it's about growing up - as a young adult, and as a middle-aged adult. There's something here for kids and their parents, regardless of the decade in which they came of age.
Joanne Peters is a Teacher-Librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - JANUARY 30, 1998.
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