Three Day Summer is an upcoming standalone novel from Sarvenaz Tash. It marks her debut writing in the Young Adult market. The novel details three days in Bethel New York during Woodstock in 1969. The book follows the narrative POVs of Michael and Cora, an attendee to the festival and a volunteer nurse in the medical tent, respectively.
Michael doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. Between the cold aspects of his girlfriend, Amanda, and the war in Vietnam, he is being pulled in many directions, none of which he wants to follow. He doesn’t want to go to college, though it is the best way to avoid being drafted. He wants to be with Amanda sexually but she keeps pushing him away and mistreats him at every chance. By contrast Cora, a young woman from a nearby farm, knows exactly what she wants to do but faces many social obstacles. She wants to become a doctor, though women in that level of the medical field are rare and often not taken seriously. Life on the farm is far from simple. Her oldest brother, Mark, is away fighting a war he doesn’t believe in. Her Father and twin brother, Wes, are always at each other’s throats. Hopeful yet hesitant for a bright future, Cora bides her time as a candy-striper with the hospital, manning the medical tent in preparation for the biggest musical festival ever.
And then, on the first day, a young blonde man is carted into her tent with a head full of bad acid and beautiful green eyes. For the next three days there is little else that Cora can, and wants to, think about, and vice versa.
The book is fun and uncomplicated, the writing brief and simple. The characters are easy to get along with and a joy to follow around for the span of the book. Because the POVs alternate this book reads like a breeze and flies right along. I started it yesterday and here, a day later, I am done. It’s a perfect light, fluffy book in the midst of everything else I am reading.
The romance is sweet but not without its difficulties. There is Michael’s girlfriend to think about, who gets lost in the 400,000 attendees early on in the story. There are the occasional thoughts devoted to her from both narrators – Cora knows that Michael is not single yet it does little from stopping her heart from reaching out to his. Cora is also overcoming her own shattered heart, having lost her only boyfriend, Ned, a month before. Ned complicates things by coming to the festival and to Cora’s home, seemingly wanting to make amends, but Cora has little care for Ned. All she sees is Michael, carefree and devoted to music.
I had a few minor problems with the book. One is that there wasn’t enough about the musical performances for my taste. I was largely intrigued by this book because of the setting, because of Woodstock. While Tash did well with the physical environment, the farm itself and the outdoors, I felt that the music of Woodstock played second fiddle to the drama between Cora and Michael. I wanted more of the history, more of the festival, and the characters seemed to be taken away from the performances at every opportunity. As such, Woodstock, in all of its magic, became set-dressing. My second criticism lies in Tash’s occasional usage of slang. There were a few phrases peppered throughout that I felt were too contemporary, too modern to befit a child of the sixties. It threw me out of context in a novel that was otherwise, very well placed time-wise. It felt a little jarring to suddenly see things and hear things that I could read in a current novel. Maybe this was Tash’s way to connect with a modern audience but it felt anachronistic to me. Everything else is so spot on with the period that I could not ignore these missteps. Other than that I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone in search of an easy read.
This book is about peace and happiness, about purpose and finding oneself in all ways. It’s about finding your perfect match, that person who encourages you and challenges you to strive for improvement. It’s about three days of love, bliss, and true harmony. It’s a groovy YA debut.
4 out of 5 stars.
* Three Day Summer releases May 19, 2015
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