Ciara's Reviews > Arcadia

Arcadia by Lauren Groff
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Aug 26, 12

bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read in June, 2012

i'm not sure how the author managed to take a plot about the personality clashes between a charismatic hippie with a major messiah complex & another hippie grappling with some suppressed anger issues as seen through the eyes of an innocent child who has never known any other life than the one he leads turning the grounds of a crumbling upstate new york mansion into a utopian commune & actually make it kind of boring. when i read the reviews, there was something about it all that made me think, "i don't think this is the book for me," but, i mean, hippie commune. what's not to love? & i felt that the cult leader dude was kind of based on stephen gaskin, husband of famous home birth midwife ina may gaskin. that guy always struck me as a little bit sinister. but i don't know...the book really wasn't for me.

the protagonist is a boy named bit, so named because he was just a "little bit" at birth. he was born premature & was always small in stature. this is repeated so many times in so many different ways that i seriously started imagining a hobbit, & i was like, "don't these hippies notice that there's a hobbit hanging around their encampment?" so, that was distracting. we follow bit through his childhood & his mother's first battles with depression, into his teenage years when he is introduced to sex thanks to a slightly older female friend on the commune who is very damaged by her hippie upbringing, into his adulthood as a photography professor & single father who constantly has to spurn the advances of frisky female students (even though he's a hobbit! how does that work?).

i guess i just never connected with bit, & because he is the emotional ballast of the entire book, i just couldn't get into it. for my money, he was too much of an observer, not enough of a participant in the events that make up the plot. that made it difficult for me to invest. people that are more excited about hippies than i am may have a different reaction.
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message 1: by Joan (new)

Joan I am very excited about hippies, but this bored the cr*p out of me.


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