Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan

Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan

Purple Daze is a young adult novel set in suburban Los Angeles in 1965. Six high school students share their experiences and feelings in interconnected free verse and traditional poems about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, high school, and friendship.
Although there have been verse novels published recently, none explore the changing and volatile 1960's in America-- a time when young people drove a cultural and political revolution. With themes like the costs and casualties of war, the consequences of sex, and the complex relationships between teens, their peers, and their parents, this story is still as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.

Purple Daze was a unique and interesting novel written in a mix of verse and prose. This opened my eyes to the lives of teenagers growing up in the 1960’s. Young people played such a large role in making a difference. War, sex, racism, alcoholism, and more were all explored in this short book and it definitely packed a punch.

This was told from the perspectives of six teenagers (all friends or couples) and it was heartbreaking, especially, to read the letters from the young men in Vietnam. Back in America people were dealing with a lot, too. There were riots and protests against the war, racism, and pro-feminism. So many issues were tackled in this book and in between the chapters from the point of view of one of the six teenagers, speeches of the President, Martin Luther King, JR, and more were included.

I learned a lot reading this and it was an intriguing way to tell the story of young adults experiencing the 1960’s and the changes occurring during that time. For me, I wish it was told in prose. I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I would have hoped and by the time I was really into their stories, the book was done. This could have been a really impressive novel, but I was disappointed that it didn’t allow the character’s to develop very much.

Ziggy, Cheryl, Nancy, Phil, Don, and Mickey each faced a lot of tough times and there were some important messages buried in the story. The plot spanned a large amount of time, but I felt some important details were missing. There were some interesting sub-plots and, as I mentioned before, so many important issues and themes of the 60’s were included in Purple Daze.

All in all, I am glad I read this and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, fast paced look at the 1960’s and what life was like for teenagers in that time. Purple Daze didn’t entirely live up to my expectations, but I did take some interesting facts away from it.

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

March 22, 2011/Running Press Teens/207 Pages/Young Adult

Source: Publicist (Hardcover)


  1. Great review. The cover of this book really cought my attention a couple of weeks ago, but I'm sorry to hear that it didn't live up to your expectations. It does sounds interesting and I never read a YA book about the 1960's! :)

  2. I've only read a few reviews on this and although not all of them have been positive, I still find it to sounds interesting. I haven't read any YA books about the 60's, so that sounds unique and I definitely want to read it. Too bad it didn't live up to your expectations though. Great review :)

  3. The girl on the book's cover looks like a total rebel.


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