About the Book
It's 1969. Fiona, a brilliant, beautiful art student, struggles to find herself as she lives through the dramatic events of her time: sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, the first draft lottery since World War II, the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, the Kent State shootings, and more.
In this fast-paced coming-of-age novel we meet Fiona, an art student at a New Jersey college who is brilliant, beautiful, and struggling to find herself. Through her eyes we relive the turbulent culture of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, the first draft lottery since World War II, the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, the Kent State University shootings, and the harsh realities of war for Americans in their early twenties.
Fiona's best friend, Melissa, is in a dead-end relationship, pregnant, and going nowhere fast. After Melissa's abortion, Fiona and Melissa spend a week in Florida, where they are introduced to tarot cards and the anti-war movement. Following this experience, Melissa becomes obsessed with the occult; Fiona, though intrigued, approaches the tarot cautiously, with the voice of her conservative Christian mother screaming in her head.
After Fiona's return from Florida, she begins dating Reuben--a journalism major and political activist. Reuben decides to move to Canada to avoid the draft and encourages Fiona to accompany him. But is that really what she wants? Caught between her feelings for Reuben and her own aspirations, Fiona struggles to define herself, her artistic career, and her future.
"In this ambitious and skillfully written novel, Edwards presents three intriguing protagonists and delivers some rich period details, including about the Vietnam War and abortion laws."
"What a Trip: A Novel
is flavorful, a balanced story that brims with realism and features intelligently written characters."
, 5-star review
"Spare and uncompromising, What a Trip
is a historical novel about a young woman's tumultuous, painful coming-of-age."
"A coming-of-age slice-of-life in which a young woman finds herself in the turbulent 1960s. . . . Their talk and fears and conflicts . . . are highly specific and yet in many ways also timeless, the hearts and minds of young people convincingly rendered, feeling towards their own truths and tragedies as their nation verges on a crackup."
"Amid the turmoil of the 1960s in America, a young woman and her circle of friends find meaning in the power of friendships, romance, and many unexpected adventures. It's a wild ride!"
--Vivian Fransen, author of The Straight Spouse: A Memoir
"What a Trip
takes us back to the late 1960s, when a college girl tests the limits of free love, drugs, and the occult against her political views, family loyalty, and deep-rooted friendships. This nostalgic and gripping coming-of-age novel from debut author Susen Edwards is storytelling at its finest."
--Valerie Taylor, author of What's Not Said
and What's Not True
"What a trip! What a story! Set against the turbulent era of the Vietnam War, the author spins a tale of love, uncertainty, black magic, life, and death, with a nail-biting plot twist I never saw coming. Fasten your seatbelts and go along for the ride. For anyone who came of age in the '60s and '70s--and those who wish they had."
--Deborah K. Shepherd, author of So Happy Together
"What A Trip
celebrates and explores the universal complexity of female friendships. But it doesn't stop there. It interrogates those tender and vulnerable places where a girl becomes a woman and whether or not those friends can survive the obstacles of youth. Told with beauty, grace, and a sharp insightfulness, Susen Edwards makes an unforgettable debut."
--Krystal A. Sital, author of Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad
and PEN Award Finalist
"Against the backdrop of the sizzling sixties, a beautiful and intelligent Fiona tries to figure out where she belongs and how she can shape her life. Drugs, sex, and rock'n'roll drive much of the action in this wonderful coming-of-age novel. Ms. Edwards uses her deft talents to create a compelling story that is hard to put down. A great and fast-moving read!"
--Jenny Brooks, author of Fractured: A Memoir
"Susen Edwards takes us on the '70s, wild, generational jailbreak ride in her novel, What A Trip
. Vietnam, the draft lottery, Woodstock, witchcraft, protests, acid . . . it's all here! Through the eyes of the wide-eyed Fiona O'Brien, the story is a sensorial immersion in the unhinged explosion of consciousness of the times. I could almost taste the iceberg lettuce salads with fluorescent French dressing, hear the lyrics of a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune, and smell the home-grown weed."
--J. Dylan Yates, author of The Belief in Angels
"Wow--this is a trip! Anyone who remembers those days will find themselves in a familiar world, rich with detail and lyrics of the times, including a song playlist at the end. The author's protagonist has an authentic voice and her worries were our youthful worries."
--Linda Moore, author of Attribution
"The cusp of adulthood is both scary and hopeful, and it was particularly fraught in the late '60s and early '70s. What a Trip skillfully evokes the era as well as the poignant personal lives of nineteen-year-old art student Fiona O'Brien and her best friend, Melissa. My fingers were crossed all along the way for Fiona to figure out who she is and what she wants, and have the courage to take a chance on her future. A novel that feels deeply honest and true."
--Heidi Hackford, author of Folly Park
"An engaging trip through the social and political upheaval of life in the '60s through the eyes of a young woman looking for love and meaning in life. Sex, drugs, and the Vietnam War provide the backdrop for a story that dramatically illustrates the complexity of the times and the changing values from one generation to the next. Despite the clamor all around them, attempting to pull them apart, the characters in this entertaining and heartfelt novel admirably demonstrate the importance of human connection."
--Debra Green, author of The Convention of Wives
"What a Trip
by Susen Edwards is like entering a time machine back to the 1960s. Many of the themes in this book--abortion choice, drugs, government corruption--are as relevant today as they were then. Whether you lived the '60s or only heard about that transformative time from your parents, this book will take you on a journey you will not regret."
--Patricia Grayhall, author of Making the Rounds