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Swann offers an impressively constructed narrative about a pair of hippie parents and the children they raise in the Pennsylvania farm country during the 1970s and '80s. The children, Lu, Maeve, Tuck and Clyde, grow up roaming the fields and doing as they please. It's an idyllic existence until the children mature and become self-conscious about their unorthodox upbringing. Their father, Sam, is an intellectual who graduated from Harvard, while their mother, Dee, is an artist. Both are politically conscious members of the counterculture who try to instill in their children the importance of honesty and freedom. Their lessons about life start to ring false, however, once their marriage hits a rough patch. When Dee and Sam separate, the split turns the family upside-down. The children are soon exposed to unfamiliar facets of popular culture, including television and junk food. They also observe the romantic entanglements of their parents. There's Dee's new companion, a macho type named Bobby, and Sam's psychologist friend, who is gorgeous but dense. The events in this unconventional family history are recounted mostly by Maeve, whose narration is by turns hilarious, moving and wise. Swann's bittersweet novel convincingly documents the moods and manners of hippie culture, raising provocative questions along the way about the strengths, weaknesses and contradictions that defined a controversial generation.
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