Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash
Before Austin City Limits and Glastonbury, before Bonnaroo and Coachella, there was Woodstock. In 1969, the three day music festival held in Bethel, NY gathered some big name artists and put on a show for free. It’s liable to blow the minds of some of today’s young music fans.
Three Day Summer captures the intense bonding that occurs when people are thrown together during a historic event.
Michael Michaelson just doesn’t know what the future holds. He doesn’t know if he wants to go to community college. He is pretty sure he wants to break up with his super hot girlfriend, but he just doesn’t know how. In fact, the only thing Michael is sure of is that he wants to listen to the amazing bands that will be playing at Max Yasgur’s farm.
Cara is sick of everyone else knowing what’s best for her. Her dad, her ex-boyfriend, everyone seems convinced that they can manage Cara’s life. But Cara knows exactly what she wants. She doesn’t want to settle for being a nurse just because she’s a girl. She knows she has what it takes to be a doctor.
They meet when Michael ends up at the medical tent after taking acid. Cara stays by his side and the two find it increasingly hard to say goodbye to each other. They have some crazy adventures together as they experience the legendary concert. While some of these require a bit of suspension of disbelief the book is mostly about the small moments they share. There are also some great moments between Cara and her family, particularly when she ends up arguing with her dad. It’s very honest in the way it shows that even “good girls” don’t always agree with their parents.
A note about diversity: So Cara is one quarter Seneca. Unfortunately, this is left as a very minor detail – sure she’s got silky hair and yes, her mother lived on a reservation before she was married and father’s family didn’t accept her, but it’s all handled very briefly. While I love to see minority characters included in books, their presence is diminished if it is mentioned so lightly.
A note about sex: A girl is called an “ice queen” because she doesn’t want to have sex with someone she has been dating for seven months. This made me really uncomfortable. Every time a book uses this type of characterization for a girl who does not choose to have sexual intercourse it continues the cycle of shaming girls for making their own decisions about their bodies. It was really disappointing to run into this here.
Age Recommendation: Because there is actual sex, frequent and casual drug use and because the f-word is bandied about, I recommend this for Grade 9+.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – a boy looks at a girl’s chest, there’s kissing. A boy is told (figuratively) to get his pecker out of a girl’s purse. A boy wants to “do it” with a girl. A girl’s voice makes a guy want to “tongue an exhaust pipe”. A soldier visited a house of “ill repute”. A guy compares a girls “tits” to cantaloupes. Someone sees two people having public sex. People hold hands and people kiss. There’s some kissing while one person is naked and the other is only in underwear. Someone thinks about not being a virgin anymore and how the experience has changed her. Someone in a relationship cheats. A woman goes into labor and her dilation is checked. People skinny dip. People undress each other while kissing. Sex is implied but not outright stated.
Profanity – “pissed”, “damn”, “bastard”, “ass”, “hell”, “Goddamn”, “screw”, “asshole”, “fucking” four times, “fuck off”, there’s a cheer that involves spelling: F-U-C-K, “God”, “dumb hick”, “bitchy”, “jerk”,
Death, Violence and Gore – There are historical references to violent acts, like a girl getting her head bashed in at a riot, President Kennedy and MLK Jr. being assassinated. A man is bashed over the head with a guitar. A few guys punch each other. There is some bleeding as a result.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – a boy has hash at his disposal. Drugs are purchased. People smoke marijuana. People drop acid. People take shrooms. Teens drink beer. Someone uses a drug called mesc which is a hallucinogen. A musician admits to being high.
Frightening or Intense Things –Cora’s brother is serving in Vietnam. There are reports of different colors of acid causing bad reactions, triggering seizures and essentially being poisonous.