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Once, in Lourdes

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  83 reviews
A poignant novel of teenage friendship set during a two-week span in the turbulent summer of 1968, in which four friends make a pact that will change their lives forever.

Four high school friends stand on the brink of adulthood—and on the high ledge above the sea at the local park in Lourdes, Michigan, they call the Haight—and make a pact. For the next two weeks, they will
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau
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Average rating 3.32  · 
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Elyse  Walters
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'd love to ask the author Sharon Solwitz about the title of this novel. As far as I know - there is not a 'real' town called "Lourdes" in Michigan.....but what I find interesting-and perhaps symbolic & fitting to this story is that Madonna's daughter's name is 'Lourdes',
who is currently a student at the University of Michigan.

"Lourdes" is reference to the Virgin Mary.
"Lourdes, France"..... is the most visited pilgrimage shrine in the Christian world.

So, "Once, in Lourdes" is!!!
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars, rounded up
1968. Bob Dylan on the transistor radio, reading Tao Te Ching, dropping acid, the convention protests in Chicago, discussing the Vietnam War around the dinner table. Solwitz sets the stage for these four misfit teenagers who are best friends and she does a good job of describing the place and time. The four make a suicide pact with the intention of giving themselves two weeks before carrying it out. Initially told from Kay’s perspective, you know from the get go that she,
Dannii Elle
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Sharon Solwitz, and the publisher, Spiegel & Grau, for this opportunity.

The summer of 1968. Four best friends are faced with a forever uncertain future. Their tight-knit group is set to be infiltrated and disrupted by their impending adulthood. That is, unless they take their futures into their own hands and eradicate it. A suicide pact gives them just fourteen days to live and experience everything
Sarah Joint
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just have to say it: this book made me uncomfortable. It'll probably make you uncomfortable too. It's an odd story, yet beautifully written and poignant in many ways. I was at times reminded of The Girls but a lot of that may have simply been the time period. It's 1968, and the world is changing... but four friends plan to stay behind.

Two girls and two boys form a unique group of friends. It's clear from the way they speak that they're all intelligent, but not without their own individual
Erin Clemence
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, kindle
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.
“Once in Lourdes” by Sharon Solwitz, takes place in a small town in 1968, where four inseparable teenagers vow to live this summer as if it is their last- which of course it is since the same four have also made a suicide pact. Vera, CJ, Saint and Kay spend the summer exploring themselves (and each other) with careless disregard and fearless abandon, knowing the consequences
Oct 18, 2017 marked it as will-probably-not-finish
Shelves: arc
I have stopped reading this book at some point and then just never picked it back up again. I am trying to be more honest to myself about not finishing books - I am somehow rarely absolutely sure I won't finish a book (which is why the shelf is called "will probably not finish"); I am eternally optimistic that I at some point maybe will feel like picking the book up again, but I practically never do.

This is my longwinded way of saying: I will not be finishing this book. It is not a bad book but
Karen Rush
Four high school friends, all of them troubled teens, make a suicide pact on the bluffs of Lourdes. In two weeks, they will come back to this same spot and jump off the bluffs together. How will each choose to live their last two weeks? The characters’ voices feel authentic, I sympathized with their struggles, saw the potential for good in their souls and wished them all a happy ending. But the story was unsettling and I was not a fan of the direction their paths led. My fault, I should have ...more
Strange title, but it fits. Lourdes, Michigan is the small fictional town where this book takes place in the late 60’s. The story is centered around 4 teenage friends, 2 guys, 2 girls. They are misfits at school and broken kids. They come from dysfunctional families and have problems of their own, but they find solace in each other, something to be a part of. I guess this is really a coming of age situation, but there is a catch. They make a pact, that in 2 weeks they will kill themselves. ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's 1968 in Lourdes, MI, a fictional town outside of Chicago. The tense and taut atmosphere of '68 is felt throughout. Protests, forceful police, dizzying amount of drugs, and free love. 4 high school kids, each with their own personal conflicts, find friendship and form a tight bond. They agree that their lives would be better if they weren't a part of this world and make a pact to jump from a bluff and end 14 days.

When I read that this was a suicide pact, my attention was alerted. I
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Kay, Vera, CJ and Saint - four teenagers living in Lourdes, Michigan, in 1968. In love with each other and misunderstood by everyone, the gang make a pledge to jump off the ledge of a local cliff in two weeks time.

TW: Mental health issues, physical abuse, incest, fat phobia.

3.5 stars

This is one of the stories where you have no idea what to think at the start, you think you do in the middle and
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This book scratched the surface of too many things....teenage angst, not belonging, being fat, gay, confused sexually, different, misunderstood. Throw in the political unrest of the time, the Vietnam war. This group of 4, the misfits of their high school for the reasons above and then some. They make a pledge to kill themselves together and this story is the count down to the day of "The Pledge". Perhaps, because I am no
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley & Random House for ARC.

So, I was offered this book to read free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

What I liked…

I enjoyed the time period the book was set in, which was during Vietnam War era in summer of 1968. Having taken a class in my college studies about the Vietnam War and an overall enjoyment for this period in history, I was definitely intrigued to say the least.

I also enjoyed the close bond that the four friends (Vera, Kay, Saint and CJ) shared. Their
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a heartbreaking novel, with an ending that made me almost miss by subway train transfer this morning! There is a lot to unpack with Once, In Lourdes. Centered around four best friends during the summer before their senior year of college in 1968, the story jumps around between the four friends as the reader struggles to learn why in two weeks after the novel begins, they will all commit suicide together.

While the plot is intriguing, albeit morbid, the highlight of the novel for me was
Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
via my blog:
“There are times in a person’s life when, even as an event is occurring, you know you might not ever understand it.”

This is another novel that left me with feeling ‘off’. What time is less understood, as you’re living it, than your teenage ones? In this novel, a pact is made by four high school friends upon a ledge above the sea at the local park in Lourdes, Michigan (which they call ‘The Haight”. It’s not your usual sort of pact, in fact is
M.L. Rio
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
It's hard to know what to feel about this book. The premise (that four suburban teens make a suicide pact) seems preposterous, but maybe it only feels preposterous because their reasons for doing so are flimsy at best (with one exception). This is one element of a more pervasive problem, which is that the whole book lacks stability; characters swing from one emotional extreme to another, often in the space of one sentence or less, with no prompting and no explanation. They're constantly ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kay was 11 years old when her mother killed herself. Kay is in high school and an outcast. Kay feels like an outcast in her family as her stepmother nags her to lose the extra 40 pounds of weight. She has three other friends who are also outcasts. Vera has a deformed hand, CJ is a son of an Auschwitz survivor and Saint has just come from Detroit and helps his mother to support the family by working part time. While playing bridge in the park one day, they decide to commit suicide in two weeks. ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was offered to me because I had read a similar book so I started reading this with no expectation. The plot is a little dark, it centers on a suicide pact, and the last days of the lives of those involved. The books summary also makes reference to the 1968 DNC and Chicago riots but those events are are hardly mentioned with the exception of one chapter which was disappointing.

Also, the
This is sort of like a Breakfast Club. Except it's 1968 so there is a very different feel to the world where Kate, Saint, Vera and CJ live. And instead of being encouraged to be themselves they are all trying to stuff it deep down. Which is why they all make a suicide pact set to expire (or take place?) in two weeks.

I wanted to be annoyed with these kids. I mean, come on, a suicide pact? I hated them before I knew anything about them. But one by one they killed a little of the hate with such
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Net Galley for the free ARC.

Very complex book. The setting is the 1960's in a tiny town called Lourdes, where four friends are trying to figure out how they fit into the world. It is a world of draft cards, drugs, free sex, revolt against the establishment and typical teenage angst.

The four friends make a pact to literally jump of a cliff together in a few weeks and you learn why they each feel they need to do this over the next few weeks. The ending is unexpected, but "right"( in
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I would say it's a little intense for a teenager to read... or may give them bad ideas. lol Very well written. I really got sucked into this one. Thank you again Netgalley for the advanced copy.
May 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Summer of 1968, four teenage friends make a pact, for two weeks they would do everything they dreamed of before committing suicide together by leaping off the bluff at a local park. I received this book as an ARC so was determined to finish it even though I found it difficult.

Vera: Does drugs and uses sex to fill voids in her life. Also has an incest relationship with her brother whom she has had sex with and he is in love with her. She is obsessed with Saint and is the one who came up with the
Karen Germain
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Thank You to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with an advance copy of Sharon Solwitz's novel, Once, in Lourdes, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT - Set during the late 1960's in Michigan, Once, in Lourdes, is the story of four high school friends who make a suicide pact. The teenagers sign a pledge to throw themselves off of a cliff and into the ocean at sunrise in two weeks. In the time leading up to the pact, they find themselves making bold choices and living as if they're
Susie | Novel Visits
Once, In Lourdes by Sharon Solwitz
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Length: 320 pages
Original Review Source:
Single Sentence Summary: On a hot August day in 1968 friends, Kay, Saint, Vera and C.J., take a pledge giving themselves two weeks to experience all of life and then die together.

Primary Characters: Kay, Saint, Vera and C.J. were each, for different reasons, outcasts at their small town high school. Finding each other was their
Cynthia Archer
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book that will certainly affect a reader. It is a coming of age story of sorts with the main characters a close clique of four teens who are on the verge of graduating from high school. They each have had problems fitting in with other teens and have banded together to form gang of misfits. The story takes place in a small town, Lourdes, Michigan, during the turbulent year of 1968. These four each clearly have a love and concern for each other and look to each other for acceptance, ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5/5 stars

At times uncomfortable, at times heartbreaking, and always vivid, Once, In Lourdes is an entirely unique story of sixties friendship and rebellion. Readers may be quick to compare the novel to Emma Cline’s “The Girls”, yet I found the sixties vibe and friendships described in Once, In Lourdes to be much more realistic. The plot mainly centers around a suicide pact made between four friends: Kay, Vera, CJ, and Saint. Rejected by their families and the world, the foursome finds a true
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

I was sent this book because I had favorably reviewed last summer's "The Girls" by Emma Cline, and I have to say, it was a spot-on recommendation. At first, I was skeptical. Yes, it had similar themes: it's set in the past (the late 1960s) and follows a group of teenage misfits over the course of a life-changing two weeks. I was pleased to discover that Sharon Solwitz is as skilled and lyrical a
This book was recommended to me because I really enjoyed "The Girls", by Emma Cline, and I definitely see the link between the two, but "Once, In Lourdes" didn't work as well for me.
The story takes place in 1968, and the political unrest in the USA at the time is often alluded to, but the teenage experience the protagonist go through is quite universal and it's easy to forget the time and place (which is too bad for me, since I like the feeling of that era). Four teenagers, all pretty outcast
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lourdes, Michigan, summer of 1968. Four friends make a pact: in exactly fourteen days, before the sun’s first rays hit the lake, they will leap together into death. They are outsiders, all the four of them, for different reasons. Kay Campion is fat, as a child she found her mother who committed suicide and her father re-married only a couple of months later. Vera is beautiful and gracile, but she was bullied due to her crippled fingers. CJ is searching for his identity: does he love boys or ...more

I don't remember how I received this one for review, but I was glad I did receive it. It came in my email as a suggested like from NetGalley and it hit pretty well. This was a quick read in a world where there is so much mess.

In Lourdes, MI in the summer of 1968, 4 friends- Kay, CJ, Saint, and Vera make a pact to end their lives by the end of the summer. They want to escape their lives because each in their own way live lives filled with mess.

CJ is Jewish, yet gets turned on by Holocaust
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
During the summer of 1968, four close friends in Lourdes, Michigan agree to a pact. Vera suggests to Saint, Kay and CJ that they all jump to their deaths at the end of two weeks. They’ll meet as they normally do at the Haight, a park with a high ledge over the sea, but for the sole purpose of completing their pact.
Each person has his or her own demons, and hand sketches by Kay are interspersed throughout the novel. The characters are created in a quiet, almost sad setting. At times each
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Sharon Solwitz is a fiction writer and professor based in Chicago, Illinois. She is the author of the short story collection Blood and Milk and the novel Bloody Mary, both of which were published by Sarabande Books. Tom Perotta and Heidi Pitlor selected her story "Alive" for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 2012. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991, ...more