My Beautiful Hippie by Janet Nichols Lynch
Fifteen-year-old Joanne Donnelly is living on the edge of two very conflicting world. There’s the world in which she lives in full of middle class ideals and values.. There, Joanne strives to become a famous concert pianist.
But mere blocks away, there’s the world in which she longs to be a part of: The world of the counter-culture – the hippies – in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. There Joanne strives to find peace, love, and marijuana.
But what she finds is Martin, a beautiful hippie, that awakens emotions Joanne never knew existed within her. Head over heals, Joanne sets out to learn about and from Martine.
But Martin’s a long-haired hippy, who dreams of roaming the world instead of settling down to a life Joanne pictured for herself. In too deep, Joanne finds herself stuck in a world that she isn’t sure she wants to be a part of anymore.
My Beautiful Hippie written by author Janet Nichols Lynch is a coming of age story that never really comes of age.
Lynch’s writing is solid, providing a vivid backdrop and some rock solid facts. However, where My Beautiful Hippie excels at writing, it fails at pacing.
At only one hundred and ninety-two pages, My Beautiful Hippie is a book that should have flown by. But for me, I found it to be slow with no real end in sight.
As a reader, I could have dealt with the pacing, after all My Beautiful Hippie is not billed as an action-packed thriller. It’s a realistic read that relies too heavily on the realistic. It was like peering through a window into the lives of some terribly boring people.
My Beautiful Hippie’s main character Joanne is a character that I was rooting for up until the very end. She wants so desperately to break away from the ideals and morals she was raised with, to find her own life and freedoms within the world. But for every step she takes away from her parents ideals, she ends up taking two back.
For example, when Martin – the beautiful hippie and Joanne’s love interest – tells her of his plans to never settle down and roam the world – she asks why he doesn’t buy into the American dream (the house with the picket fence, two point five children, and a dog barking playfully in the yard) as if her parents way is the right way.
Even though Joanne fell short somewhere along the line for me, I will say this about her: she’s relatable. Like her reader’s will fully understand familial and societal pressures. Readers will fully understand wanting to step out of shadows of their parents and into their own light. And beyond that, readers will fully understand all the emotions that come with falling in love for the very first time.
What I did enjoy about Lynch’s My Beautiful Hippie was the portrayal of the Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco. The Hippie counter-culture and the time period in which they flourished has always fascinated me.
From My Beautiful Hippie I got a better understanding of the life in that area. I could picture the concert halls full up of marijuana smoke. I could picture the small coffee houses where people performed in the hopes of making a few buck. I could picture the park in which the hippies hung out around.
Even though I did like some aspects of this book, push come to shove, those likes didn’t outweigh the dislikes. My Beautiful Hippie wasn’t my kind of read. It fell short, and ultimately left me disappointed. Even though this book wasn’t the book for me, doesn’t mean it will not be the book for everyone. Check it out, read it for yourselves, and please feel free to discuss!