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With little more than a run-down Jeep and their newborn baby in tow, author Micah Perks' parents set out in 1963 to build a school and a utopian community in the mountains. The school would become known as a place to send teens with drug addictions and emotional problems, children with whom Micah and her sister would grow up.
This complex memoir mixes a moving celebration of the utopian spirit and its desire for community and freedom with a lacerating critique of the consequences of those desires - especially for the children involved. How could the campaign for a perfect home and family create such confusion and destruction? The '60s, for many, became a laboratory of hope and chaos, as young idealists tested the limits of possibility.
Micah Perks has cast her unflinching and precise eye on her own history and has illuminated not only those years of her childhood, but a wide-open moment that marked our culture for all time.
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Every Child for Herself
There are a lot of memoirs of the 1960s, and what it was like to grow up as a child in New Age or visionary cults... but this, truly, is my favorite. It’s amazing she’s left standing to tell it all.
Today, Micah Perks now runs the creative writing program at UCSC. But as an infant, Perks’ parents loaded her into their VW bug, and drove into the mountains to open a "self-determined" school for troubled youths and young adults. These were the young people she grew up with. In a true-to-life Lord of the Flies climax, her father engineers a war between “Romans” and “Celts.”
Never succumbing to the scandalized eye of the institution, Perks views her experience with a steady gaze and observes the sacrifice, distortion, and benefits of a life against where freedom conjured up the spirit of Bobbie McGee: Freedom's just another word for nothing— nothing left to lose.
4 people found this helpful
- Darby Barksdale
For me I found the story uninteresting. Her voice and character sounds were difficult to interpret. It was difficult for me to empathize and understand the story being told. Maybe someone else would enjoy it? It’s a slow moving story that lacks depth and energy