I've always been a fan of books. Whether it's mysteries or love stories, I catch myself getting lost within their pages. I prefer to read during breaks from school when I don't have any work to do, so this summer, I was a regular at Books-a-Million.
Up and down the teen aisle I went. From the "Twilight" saga to the "Hunger Games" trilogy, I just could not find the book for me. Finally, I ran across an interesting one. The cover was purple and neon yellow with a hippie-like girl dancing on the front. It was fresh off the delivery truck and only available in hardcover, which was fine with me.
The book was "Purple Daze" by Sherry Shahan. It uses poetry, journal entries and letters to develop its plot, which is set in 1965 Los Angeles when the Vietnam War is gaining momentum. It features six teens -- Ziggy, Cheryl, Mickey, Don, Nancy and Phil -- and the different struggles they each face.
Ziggy is a wild child who is somewhat misunderstood. She is deeply in love with her boyfriend, Mickey, who eventually joins the Army. Once this happens, Ziggy begins using drugs and drops out of school.
Then there's Phil. Although he was originally Ziggy's friend, he became close with Cheryl. Unlike Mickey, he was unwillingly called to join the Army. Luckily, Cheryl was his guardian angel. Instead of losing his mind while his Army friends lost their lives, Phil was able to stay in good spirits in Vietnam because of Cheryl.
Cheryl started writing Phil letters every day after his girlfriend, Nancy, stopped writing him. Cheryl is the caring and concerned one in the bunch, so she easily takes time out of her day to let Phil know she is thinking about him.
Besides being Phil's friend, Cheryl is also Don's girlfriend. Don is a lost cause. He fails to realize that Cheryl is really interested in him, so he cheats on her for a cheap thrill, and she breaks up with him. He doesn't realize her reasons for not having sex with him, so he ends up losing a true relationship.
Shahan does a wonderful job of explaining the teenagers' lives as well as the world around them. The book begins with a summary of events that happened in 1965, such as "The Sound of Music" winning the Academy Award for Best Picture and President Johnson increasing the draft call from 17,000 to 35,000. It also ends with a timeline, running through Nov. 30, 1965.
"Purple Daze" will keep readers' attention from beginning to end. The use of poetry, journal entries and letters allows the readers to understand the emotional state that each character is in. Not only is war raging in their world, war is raging in their lives.
Ziggy loses the love of her life due to the war. Phil loses his girlfriend because he was drafted. They don't have normal teenage lives because they never know when the war thousands of miles away will affect their lives at home.
"Purple Daze" is one of my favorite books. Not only does it incorporate history, using events that affected teenagers' lives during the time period, but it also tells its story in an energetic, poetic way.
If you're looking for a good book to read, you should definitely check out Sherry Shahan's "Purple Daze." It will keep the interest of teens and adults alike.