Kevin has written an evocactive narrative of his childhood through the early teen years. His style is warm and friendly; like an old friend telling you a story. His voice is natural and easy going.
The vehicle of narrating his story serves well as a platform to describe the turbulence of the times and many of the events of the fifties and sixties. The book is full of family warmth and values, and the love that is passed down through multiple generations of family.
Many readers may relate to the story because of parallel experiences. Some of us who grew up in the same time may identify empathetically with Kevin's experience.
The nature of America then and now, is such that there are some from our generation that will not identify with Kevin's perspective on the times. That said, I think that anyone from our generation will enjoy this warm, entertaining and friendly walk down memory lane.
This book is not just for our generation. It is written for anyone who has had a favorite band, a crush on an attarctive neighbor, and the need to sort out the emotions that blend together to form our personna. It touches on the human relations of family, school, friends, teenage initiations, romantic desire, social awareness, political awareness, and the artistic muse.
"Waking Up in the Studebaker" is an absolute must read for anyone who grew up in the west-end neighborhoods of Richmond, VA during the sixties. For those of us that grew up here in that time, this book will awaken many memories. This is a bonus for a Richmond native, but not a pre-requisite to enjoy a well told story of family, friends, initiations and growing up.
The initiations come fast and hard and crash into the emotions of long ago. Like the times, this story has some bumpy moments. Hang on, turn up the music, and enjoy the ride.
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This book is so much more than a memoir. It's a captivating, raw exposè of what it was like, and meant to be, a youth growing up in the fast-changing society of the middle-class suburbs in the mid-1950s through early-1970s, restrained by an underlayment of strong regional tradition. His riveting story manipulates the reader's heart strings through the confusions, contradictions and passions of youth, as seen through now more mature, learned eyes. The title of the book comes from him waking up, physically and socially, after the Studebaker Kevin was riding in rolled over four times at 85 miles an hour - sort of his own "red badge of courage".
In the process, he's helped me understand myself, and others, through a greater awareness of the events and people directly and indirectly around me, both then and now. His story will do the same for any reader who grew up in a comparable time and place - not merely the West End of Richmond, Virginia.
Like a classic tale by O Henry, the ironic epilogue is that Kevin, who in his book freely admits having great difficulty with school in general and with English in particular, eventually becomes a high school English teacher and first-rate author.
I only knew of him in high school; I really wish I would have actually known him back then. Fortunately, I've been so enriched by having finally met him, and his story, some forty years later.
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