DISAPPEAR HOME by Laura Hurwitz
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
This book can be considered historical fiction since the events take place 43 years in the past.
This book is set in 1972 (coincidentally that was the year I was born). The hippie movement is basically over, but there are still many hold-out hippies living on communes or clinging to their old neighborhoods even as they decline around them.
Shoshanna, her sister Mara and their mother have fled Sweet Earth Farm, a commune they had been living at for five years. They have fled from Shoshanna’s abusive father Adam.
They fled the commune because hunger, violence, drugs and chaos had become the norm on the commune. There is another darker reason that prompted them to flee when they did which is revealed further into the book.
The story is told mostly from the point of view of fourteen year old Shoshanna. Her mother is ‘checked-out’ for much of the story and is at best an unfit mother and at worst a criminally negligent parent. However, the girls don’t know this. All they know is that she is their mother and that they love her.
The three make it to San Francisco to the home of a friend. This friend readily takes them in and helps them to move to a small farm where an elderly man is in need of help.
Although there are frequent references to the hellish conditions they lived in at Sweet Earth Farm, the girls seem remarkably well adjusted … almost too much so. Mara is six and is age-appropriately self-centered, but Shoshanna seems almost too good. She puts aside her own desires to help her mother and her sister. She is a teenager. Teenagers have raging hormones. That is just a fact. I would have expected at least one major freak-out, but that was not the case.
One thing that was surprising about this book was that Shoshanna showed zero interest in boys. This is unusual. Most young adult books center around teen romance. That fact alone makes for a refreshing change.
I am having a hard time deciding what rating to assign to this novel. I enjoyed reading it, but there were a few minor plot problems. I also had a hard time believing that so many people were willing to help out. Since I was born in the seventies I don’t have any first hand knowledge of what people’s behaviors were during that time period. But, things like Avery (an elderly farmer with a struggling farm) being able to afford to eat out every day and to just go out and buy groceries for four more mouths to feed without batting an eye seems unrealistic. But, maybe I am nitpicking.
The story is unique and the setting is not one that is often seen in Young Adult fiction.
I did enjoy the book and it is a quick read. My final rating is 3.5 out of 5 stars and I do recommend it to young adult readers. It will shed some light on the darker side of the hippie movement which is often portrayed as a time of all peace and love all the time.
All things considered, DISAPPEAR HOME is worth reading.