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Purple Daze

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  57 reviews

Purple Daze is a young adult novel set in suburban Los Angeles in 1965. Six high school students share their experiences and feelings in interconnected free verse and traditional poems about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, high school, and friendship.

Although there have been verse novels published recently, none explore the changing and volatile 1960's i

Hardcover, 207 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Running Press Teens (first published March 1st 2011)
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  179 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
The 1960s continue to be a source of interest and inspiration for generations long removed from the decade. This is a unique novel, set in 1965, told entirely in poetry/prose, and aimed toward a YA audience. Readers are introduced to a variety of people's experiences of this era, from participants in peace and civil rights demonstrations, to young men drafted into the Vietnam war.

Some readers will probably have strong reactions to the format in which the story is presented. There were some appa
E. Anderson
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So if you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that I’m not the world’s biggest historical fiction fan. That said, I have a big love for near histories as well as novels in verse. And of course, a great story will always get me on board. Sherry Shahan‘s PURPLE DAZE is all of these things. The book spans the year of 1965 as a group of teenagers write in journals and exchange letters in a world that is changing — and quickly.

As the story opens, the whole group — Ziggy, Cheryl, Nancy, Don, Micke
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This story is raw, honest, powerful, told from 6 points of view and taking place mostly in 1965. I was a teen during the time of this novel so am familiar with the music and themes. The characters lived in California where drugs were more prevalent. The author packs a lot of punch into an easy-to-read format, which isn't to say it would have been easy to write. The characters feel authentic. The mandatory draft, the Vietnam War, the drug culture, including parents, the angst and trials of teen y ...more
One of my first books in verse was What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones, which I first read as a middle schooler, and I’ve had a soft spot for this format ever since. When I received a pitch for Purple Daze, I was intrigued because of this and the period in history and that it took on this format. Although Purple Daze does not lack emotion, it tries so hard that it left no impact on me.

Purple Daze has been one of my quickest reads of 2012. Although some passages are written in the form of
Lorin Cary
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Follow six high school friends through the tumult of 1965 in this powerful young adult novel from Sherry Shahan. Interspersed with their letters, diaries and thoughts are excerpts from speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson, a Selective Service form, song lyrics, and news stories. A chronology of the year closes out the volume. Taken together these all provide a fascinating and lively story. Each of the six friends comes alive in their short entries. Two of the guys enter the m ...more
Savannah (Books With Bite)
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Take me back in time baby and give me the ride of my life! This book is super easy, super fast to read. It is told from six different point of views. It was either in a poem form, letter, or just thoughts. There was lots of information about what is going on in there time. There was president's speeches, war drafts, civil rights laws, birth's and death's of important people who played an important role in our history.

The whole drama of these six people made for a great story. All of their lives
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book as a must-read for all ages. (Don't let the "Young Adult" shelving fool you--it packs plenty of adult appeal.) The verse was so effortless and easy to read, and some of the lines were pure brilliance. I love that it was set in 1965, the year I was born. To hear what was going on during that year (other than The Sound of Music and the Dodgers winning, which I already knew) from this perspective was so enlightening. I think I learned more about Vietnam in the two hours ...more
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
excellent book! As many as I read, I'm still always impressed when an author writes such a good book in verse. I was in 7th-8th grade in 1965, so just a few years younger than these high school characters, and just becoming aware of the strong social and political currents running through the country. 1965 does't get as much press as 1968, but it's when the intensity of the late 60's and early 70's really ramped up. By having the characters tell the story with their own lives, Shahan makes it al ...more
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I had the pleasure of running into the author at ALA Mid-Winter and she was delightful. I read this in one evening because I couldn't put it down. Historical Fiction Novel in Verse is my FAVE! I fell in love with the characters in this book and learned about 1965. Sherry Shahan has created a beautiful mix of fact, fiction and poetry. Well Done!
Brent Watson
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING! There were single lines in this one that took my breath away.
Krista Dolan
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I only picked this up because a student noticed it in the library, and she questioned some of the content she stumbled upon when she first opened it. Based on my reading, it is one that I will keep on my own shelf, but I am a bit cautious to put it in my classroom library incase it would fall into immature hands.

However, it proved to be an engaging text written in verse; the combination of narrative perspectives and non-fiction prose from politics of the 60s is an interesting mix. I felt that t
Ten Cent Notes
Mar 21, 2011 added it
Recommends it for: Especially for readers who enjoy books written in verse.
Purple Daze, set in the LA of 1965, follows a loosely-knit group of six teenage friends during this time. Written primarily in verse, the book is a combination of their letters, poems, and journal entries interspersed with news headlines and articles from that time period.
As someone who pretty much just thought the cover was awesome-looking, I was thrilled to discover that the story is told in verse. Though I'm a huge fan of novels written in this way, I really think that some stories work bette
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am beyond happy that I received this book for review because I totally would have missed out on a great book! This is the second book in the last few months I've read that has been a historical fiction written in verse and I love this trend. "Purple Daze" is a fast read where historical facts don’t bog you down. The flow of the writing combined with the unique character voices was hypnotic. I breezed through this book in only a few hours. I don't usually comment on covers, but this one is awes ...more
Pedro C
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
HS book in verse

Shahan, Sherry. Purple Daze (2011).
Couldn't put the book down. Purple Daze was a unique, quick read, and interesting novel written in a mix of verse and prose.
In 1965, the U.S. was committing more troops to Vietnam, Malcolm X was assassinated, civil rights demonstrators marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and riots broke out in Los Angeles. Sex, drugs and rock and roll was the mantra of the day. The story is about six high school friends (Ziggy, Cheryl, Nancy, Phil, Don,
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Purple Daze was a unique and interesting novel written in a mix of verse and prose. This opened my eyes to the lives of teenagers growing up in the 1960’s. Young people played such a large role in making a difference. War, sex, racism, alcoholism, and more were all explored in this short book and it definitely packed a punch.

This was told from the perspectives of six teenagers (all friends or couples) and it was heartbreaking, especially, to read the letters from the young men in Vietnam. Back i
Let me start by saying that I absolutely love the way this novel is set up. Important historical facts and events are skillfully woven into this novel-in-verse to paint a vivid picture of the social and political issues that young people were faced with in the 1960s. All of the references and allusions to events and pop culture of the 1960s make this a wonderful historic read without the dryness of a history book. A truly excellent way to pull in relunctant readers, especially those who shy away ...more
Books and Literature for Teens
Purple Daze recounts the stories (based on real letters) of four teenagers on the brink of the Vietnam War and their last year of high school in the 1970s. While examining the current events of the time, the foursome face war, protest, a messy love triangle and the consequences of their mistakes as well as friendship. Eventually, the characters’s lives become as scattered as the world around them.
The most interesting thing about this book is the way it is written: a cross-between verse and prose
Feb 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-slj
Hmm, I'm not sure if I am bit biased against novels told in verse or this one just didn't resonate for me as much as Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse or stuff by Ellen Hopkins. I think the cover might attract some teen wannabe hippies and the brevity of a tale told with mucho white space will appeal to others. If kids are curious about their own kind back in California (and Vietnam) in 1965, this is as good a way to learn more about the time as any and better than some of the alternatives.

Following the lives of six teenagers,
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
3.5 stars! Excerpt from my review below. You can read my full, in-depth review here:

"Purple Daze is a vivid portrayal and exploration of the 60's, touching on both the lighter and heavier aspects of events and happenings during the year 1965. There was humor and fun but also some strong, deeper emotions and meanings as well. Knowing that this story is based on the author's own life during this year just made everything feel that much more real. Weaved int
Cindy Hudson
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
In 1965 the U.S. was committing more troops to Vietnam, Malcolm X was assassinated, civil rights demonstrators marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and riots broke out in Los Angeles. Sex, drugs and rock and roll was the mantra of the day. In Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan, six high school friends navigate these unsettling times along with other challenges of growing up, like having alcoholic parents, deciding whether or not to have sex with a boyfriend, trying to get through school, and get ...more
May 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Interesting conceptually, but I think this might have been trying to do too much. Six different points of view with spare verse and the occasional more newsy segment thrown in for outside context... What is really interesting is the disconnect between the POV characters and the events going on nationally and globally; the reader gets bits and pieces of the big-news end of things as well as the characters' angst about relationships and sex and so on and so forth. For some of them the two eventual ...more
Gabrielle Prendergast
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: verse-novels
I appreciate what Shahan tried to do with this book, but in the end I felt that there were just too many voices vying for attention. I find this is a problem with a lot of verse novels that attempt multiple protagonists. While this is a form that lends itself to experimentation, and certainly some verse novels with multiple protagonists work extremely well (many of Ellen Hopkins’s books for example), PURPLE DAZE struggles to express a coherent narrative, instead spending a lot of energy and time ...more
Colleen Graves
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
For all my older teens, you might want to check out: Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan, a novel in verse that utilizes six different teenage voices in the year 1965. Interspersed with historical documents, this is one book that will really help a younger generation understand the controversial nature of the 1960s. Three male voices and three very different female voices cover topics like drugs, abortion, Martin Luther King, and more. One male ends up fighting in Vietnam and writes letters back to his ...more
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This verse novel was the epitome of a verse novel. It was beautifully written and the characters were very much alive. I could really feel the heartache of the things they were going through during this war-time era. I really enjoyed the verse and I felt that I really connected with the characters. I think this would be a great read for teens especially ones who don't like long novels. This gives them a great story and a lot of history on an important time. Verse novels are some of my favorites ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan is a story surrounding six teens in 1965 and their lives. Told through striking poetry, this book introduces the reader to ideas and lifestyle of a teenager in the 60's; dealing with drugs, sex, friendship, war and politics. Each character has their own voice and issues but are all interconnected by their relationships.

I didn't really expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The book is told through poetry, but the formats change constantly. The best parts for me
Stevie Oberg
Mar 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
Ugh. There are three things that I think I could have made this book readable:

1. If it had been a movie - the story was interesting enough, it was mostly just the writing that bugged me.
2. If the author chose to write from the POV of one character.
3. If the author had chosen to write in prose.

As is I found it extremely confusing, I don't like books that switch POV's so much as it's hard to keep track of all the characters, and boring with the potential to be a decent book. I stopped reading wh
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Being an avid devourer of all the sixties-related YA literature I can find, I snapped this up. It was underwhelming, to say the least. It's told from the point of view of Cheryl, Mickey, Don, Nancy, Ziggy, and Phil, six teenage friends in Los Angeles in 1965. The characters run together, there isn't much of a plot, and serious issues like protest and abortion seem thrown in at the last minute just to add "depth." The war descriptions seemed like they were in there to just to hit the readers over ...more
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiring, realistic
I loved Ziggy. She reminded me so much of myself and how fucking crazy I went after my abortion. How I could barely stay sober too. I understood the self-hatred and pain that comes along with that. I loved Cheryl and how she was friends with all the boys and how they all loved an cared about each other and NOT be a love triangle. I loved how Cheryl saw and understood the pain that was all around her. I love how Nancy works so hard and struggles with everything by herself and keeps strong. I love ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya-read
I realize that the book closely reflects what was going on in the 60s - not the happiest time period - but I have to say that it was an incredibly depressing read. There's a line between realistic and Shahan is so far over the line it's impossible to see back.

(Also worth mentioning: I read this for the 2015 reading challenge for the "stories about your hometown" category. For a book that claims to center on the experiences of teenagers in an LA suburb during the 60s, they mention Chatsworth may
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked reading the characters thoughts but I don't know if I connected with the story enough. In the cases where I was emotionally invested such as with Cheryl and Phil, who the author seemed to devote a lot of attention to, there was no payoff by the ending. I also don't know if the facts at the end of the book were placed in the right spot. By then, all I wanted to do was close the book. It may have been better to keep some continuity with how the historical facts were dispersed throughout th ...more
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