Are You Experienced by Jordan Sonnenblick: Fabulously Researched and Written

Rich is fifteen and plays guitar. When his girlfriend asks him to perform at protest rally, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, the police show up, and so does Rich’s dad. He’s in big trouble. Again. To make matters worse, this happens near the anniversary of his uncle’s death from a drug overdose years ago. Rich’s dad always gets depressed this time of year, but whenever Rich asks questions about his late uncle, his dad shuts down. Frustrated by his dad’s silence, Rich sneaks into his office and breaks into a locked cabinet that holds his dad’s prized possession: an electric guitar signed by Jimi Hendrix. Before he knows it, Rich is transported to the side of a road in Upstate New York with a beautiful girl bending over him. It will take him a while to realize it’s 1969, he’s at Woodstock, and the girl’s band of friends includes his fifteen-year-old dad and his uncle, who’s still alive. What Rich learns, who he meets, and what he does could change his life forever.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Oh dang.  That was my first thought ten pages into the novel, and it ended that way too. I love ARE YOU EXPERIENCED. I do admit I didn’t like a lot about DRUMS, GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE–but AYE was truly impressive for me. The first thing that I noticed was the amount of research poured into this book. There was so much to it that I felt like I was right there in 1969, watching this all go down. The feeling and the world-building to this story blew me away with how detailed but not overwhelming this story was. Then there’s the matter of the writing, which appealed to me and worked so much better in this story than it did in Sonnenblick’s previous novels. Not only those things, but I appreciated the humor to this book. That, and the fact that the turning point to this book in the beginning reminded me somewhat of the anime and manga EDEN OF THE EAST. You know, when Akira suddenly appears with a gun in his hand in the middle of the road naked, ready to save Saki from the police while dodging the car that almost hit him. I have to say though, Akira will always be cooler and awesome-r (and richer) than Rich–no matter what time, space or world they’re in. Which brings me to my next point. Time travel. I will always respect good time travel, if nothing else in the novel. I didn’t love the time travel in this book, but Sonnnenblick made it work. I do have to say that this is for mature MG readers and YA folks. There is some cussing and not exactly YA material, but hinting at it. Overall, I really liked this book and I hope that Sonnenblick comes out with more books like this and CURVEBALL once again. 4 stars. pg count for the hardback: 304

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