Since leaving home at the age of eighteen, Free has traveled the country, trying to find a place to call home. Her travels afford a variety of experiences; from following the Grateful Dead, to waitressing in Chicago, to selling jewelry in New Orleans' French Market. But nothing seems to quell her sense of unrest. All the while, her estranged brother Alfie is in her thoughts. Once she finds him, perhaps she'll find her place. But can she avoid the snares of drugs and depravity long enough to do so?
For as long as she can remember, Lisa Litberg has loved to write. Over the years she has amassed quite a collection of short stories and poetry. Free is her first novel. Ms. Litberg has been a high school teacher for nearly twenty years and helps empower her urban students with the power of the written word. Currently she is working on a short story compilation geared toward urban youth, as well as her second novel, which will answer her readers' questions about what happened to Free.
This book is a nicely paced and well executed narrative about a young woman called Free. Free is on the cusp of adulthood and is traveling across the country with no real plan other than to see as many Grateful Dead concerts as she can talk her way into.
From the first page it is obvious that Free is more actively running away than she is running towards, although Litberg deftly conceals the true source of Free's angst until the plot is better developed.
The book consists of a series of unfortunate events that Free needs to surmount to try to reconnect with her past and then onward to a better future. The characters, while not all lovable or attractive, are solid and believable and the story was sufficiently intriguing to make me want to take the journey with Free to her ultimate destination.
I really enjoyed this book. The narrative is present tense, which makes you feel as though you are part of the action and inside of Free's head. I kept wanting to read more because I felt like I was on this journey with the character and I thought often about what was going on when I was away from the book, so I kept coming back.
I felt like Free was this innocent girl drifting between all the dangerous characters of the world. She is quick to trust people, even though she claims she isn't, and it's kind of scary because as the reader I did not trust a single person she came in contact with except for Maria, the fortune teller in New Orleans. Even that Charlie guy set off huge red alarms in my head.
I felt there were a lot of unanswered questions. Maybe the author wanted to leave some of those loose ends. But I don't understand exactly what Free was running from. Abuse is implied, the death of a mother is implied, but I think I wanted more of that background to really understand why home was scarier than some of the places she ended up (especially towards the middle of the book where she ends up strung out on drugs hanging with the wrong crowd). I feel like it should have been so bad that we could understand why she put herself in all these dangerous situations after running away. She says that she only ever told Eric her whole story, but since this book felt like her journal, I think she should have trusted those details to her invisible reader as well.
I don't understand why she is so attached to Eric. And maybe I need to go re-read those parts of the book again. But I just don't feel any real intimacy between them, even before all the drugs. Again, this is another area where perhaps she should have confided more in the reader. It worked that Free was just drifting along because she had no real direction. So I got when she left Eric the first time... I just didn't get the going back part. Especially with her mysterious past that we know nothing about.
It also seemed a bit too easy for her to get off the drugs she was strung out on. If Eric had to go to rehab, how was it so easy for her to get off them? She was into some serious drugs for awhile there, ones that are highly addictive. Maybe all it needed was some description of her trying to get through all the withdrawal symptoms... I still don't understand how she was able to keep herself straight after all that. What was her motivation for staying clean?
I loved the details about the Dead concerts, though. As someone who has followed U2 and some other bands on tour, I really related to those parts... And Free's belief that being at a Dead concert is the only place where she really feels alive. I totally get that. And I totally get loving the music of a band so much that you just cant stop going to more shows. From my own experience following shows, these glimpses into the subculture of people who love a band was dead (no pun intended) accurate.
Just finished reading for the second time, I love this book. Such a great story! I love the characters and the bare bones format of writing, allowing me to use my imagination to fill in the blanks. My only complaint, it ended! I was sad to finish this book. So I was heartened to find that the author is planning a follow-up book. I will be eagerly awaiting it.
Not sure about this book. At first I thought it was going to be terrible. The writing seemed stilted and simplistic, but as it went on I found that bothered me less as it seemed to fit with a straightforward telling of the story by the narrator. In other words, the narrative style suited the narrator. I ended up thinking it was ok ... though certainly not great! And the editing was appalling!
Young girl, leaves home at 14. She started traveling with people, to the Grateful Dead tours. Meets all kinds of people. She makes jewelry, braids hair and is a waitress for a bit. Eventually, she finally finds her brother, in CA. Trying to find out what to do with her life.
“The space where the sky meets the sea appears endless, an infinite horizon stretching out into eternity. I am staring right into it. Right into the unknown. Right into all that could be.” (Excerpted from “Free”)
There are a lot of compelling visuals in Lisa Litberg’s new novel that resonate with me but this one in particular reminds me of all the times throughout my life that I’ve believed I could do anything…if I just knew where, exactly, to start.
Rebellion against authority (and tradition) was not encouraged in the wealthy household where I grew up. As an only child, I was expected to be seen and not heard, get good grades, associate with the “right” kind of friends, and dutifully marry whomever my parents thought would be a smart steward of their estate. On the surface, I’m sure there were classmates that felt I had nothing to complain about because I had everything. The one thing missing, though, was the freedom to find out who I was – and who I could be – if I didn’t have someone else constantly defining it for me. I recall telling my parents about a neighbor girl a year older than I was that decided to travel cross-country with her musician boyfriend in his beat-up van and make a living selling macramé plant hangers and doing Tarot readings. My parents’ immediate prediction to this was that they’d end up as drug addicts in a Haight-Ashbury hippie commune and live off welfare. “I hope you’d never do anything that stupid,” they told me, always underscored with the threat of disinheriting me. Long story short was that I never did find out what became of the globe-trotting pair but a part of me was secretly envious they had made an exit strategy from an environment they recognized was stifling their spirits. My own exit came two years later when I entered what my parents deemed the most horrible and superficial world imaginable: I became an actress in a local theater company and moved into my own studio apartment. In their view, my fellow cast members were the “worst” kind of people that might ever cross my path and would no doubt introduce me to drugs, sex, alcohol, and scandalous orgies. I actually think they were disappointed none of these things transpired just so they could say “I told you do.” And as for all of those actors I hung out with, the majority of them shaped the strong, confident and successful woman I became – a scenario that would never have occurred if I had embraced the life my parents intended for me.
I offer all of this as a prelude to my glowing review of Litberg’s novel which revolves around a protagonist aptly named “Free.” Told in first person, present tense, Free invites us along on a gritty journey that has no GPS beyond a quest to seek out Grateful Dead concerts. Regardless of a reader’s age, the interactions between Free and her fellow travelers are not only completely plausible and well paced but Litberg has also delivered a plethora of flawed and “lost” characters that we can instantly relate to as real people we’ve actually known. It is a story that has moments of light-hearted mirth, moments of deep introspection and moments of gut-wrenching tragedy. Who among us hasn’t wondered about friendships that fell by the wayside or asked ourselves, “Could I have changed this outcome if only I had acted sooner or maybe just said the right words at the right time?”
Given the years I spent in theater as an actress and a director, I’ll be the first to say I’m a stickler for well written dialogue. Litberg has easily nailed the challenge of distinctive voices, credible repartee, and not falling into the common trap of characters talking to one another just to fill the reader in on copious back-story. Further, her choice of writing in first person present tense keeps the reader by Free’s side from start to finish. We don’t know what’s around the next corner or waiting off the next off-ramp any more than Free does and that’s what makes this book such a page-turner. Likewise, the ending is well thought through and begs for a sequel. If you’re looking for your next beach read this summer, you won’t be disappointed.
Free is a Deadhead who follows the band on tour after she leaves home at the age of eighteen. Free isn't her real name, but a name she chose for herself when she decided to change her life. Unfortunately, Free isn't nearly as free as she'd like to be, since she makes several bad choices while living her nomadic life.
Once I got past the fact that it was written in my least favorite tense - present - I was strangely drawn to this book. While I'd classify it as a coming of age, New Adult book, it contains many interesting and engaging scenarios that will likely appeal to a wide range of readers. It has a definite sixties vibe to it, although the story takes place in the early 1990s.
While I wouldn't have made most of the choices that Free made - taking drugs, staying in abusive relationships and stripping come to mind - it's still a slice-of-life-style story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Lisa Litberg's writing is conversational and light. It's also lovely and poetic at times. It was almost like reading someone's journal, only better. The author's style is so easy breezy, I was able to zip through the book in less than a day. There was a slight formatting issue, which added some funky symbols here and there, but nothing too distracting. Perhaps the author will fix them eventually. Maybe it was just my download, I'm not sure.
I would recommend Free if you're looking for something quick and interesting. It's not just a story for females, since there were plenty of male characters in this book. Some nice and some not so nice. I'm looking forward to the author's follow-up novel to this story!
I am intrigued with Lisa Litberg's story about "Free," wondering how much of it is fiction and how much might be true. Her characters came to life as I read about her vagabond lifestyle, traveling around the country to experience Grateful Dead concerts. Her story was set in the 1990's but her adventure seemed right out of the Hippie era 1960's. One theme of her story is about forgiveness and redemption. A quote that struck a responsive chord with me is: "All I have to do now is figure out how to forgive myself. And that's a lot harder than forgiving anybody else."
I'm looking forward to reading her second novel about Free's transformative journey to become the person she is today.
I don't write reviews very often. I think I'm a picky reader. I start a book and give it at least 10%. If it doesn't strike my interest, I put it down. I started this book and was drawn in from the beginning. I clicked with the characters immediately. I personally love to travel. I enjoyed reading this book. I hope there is a sequel. The only negative I could say about this book is that it caused me to stay up late because I couldn't put it down. Very good.
This was a very strange book. Nothing particularly climatic or unexpected happened in the entire book, yet I continued reading it. Maybe because I was waiting for something to happen or maybe I was genuinely entertained, it's hard to say. There was a lot of drug use, but hey it was the 90s! Lol I found the characters real and like able. However I was very disappointed with the abrupt ending. It felt like a huge let down after reading the whole book hoping for a happy ending to Free's pathetically sad little life. Over all I didn't hate the book...
A very good book, yet somewhat poorly written. I respect the author for this Dead-loving story, but a story line didn't arise until about halfway through. The characters all had a story, which was nice. I do wish I had learned more about "Free" in the beginning, but it fits her well to not know much until the end. I would most likely read a sequel, mostly because I'd like to known what becomes of her.
I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. I thought this book was simply okay. I liked the idea of Free following the Grateful Dead's tour, as that concept and theme is rare to find in books. The language seemed sharp and a little too harsh in places. The subject of drugs, homelessness, and depravity are not places that I necessarily want to escape to in a book. However, I'm sure this book is someone's cup of tea. It just wasn't mine.
Author put herself in the character's position and wrote the story in simple English as the character is not educated and a runaway kid at the age of 12. It describes the self determination of a young girl to achieve her will and how she continued her journey until she finally met her goal. Author ended the novel only mentioning the girls intent. Would certainly like to read the continuity of this book to know more.
Still unsure what I thought of this one. The book follows a young woman, self-named Free, who is wandering the country in search of... home, family, somewhere safe. At times difficult to read because of the many bad decisions she makes, I just wanted to shake her and say "stop doing this to yourself!" She does grow up some along the way, but the ending felt like it was still a loose end.