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Arcadia by Lauren Groff
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Arcadia (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Lauren Groff

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7287512,878 (3.82)64
Member:Larrythelibrarian
Title:Arcadia
Authors:Lauren Groff
Info:Voice (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Arcadia by Lauren Groff (2012)

Recently added bysyncione, Debodot, private library, coltonium, brenzi, INorris, kastelling, sandra.k.heinzman
  1. 10
    Drop City by T.C. Boyle (booklove2)
    booklove2: Another amazing novel on hippie communes trying to find their place. Also, a similar writing style.
  2. 00
    The Hypocrisy of Disco: A Memoir by Clane Hayward (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: One is fiction, the other is non-fiction, but both are about childhoods in hippie communes
  3. 00
    The Beach by Alex Garland (booklove2)
    booklove2: The unending search for utopia that falls apart
  4. 00
    Room by Emma Donoghue (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both are excellently written; both stories are about raising a baby boy in a completely non-traditional setting and include strong depictions of being a mother in extreme circumstances.
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I would never have picked this up on my own. It was a book club pick. It is so beautifully written and the story will stay with me for a long time. ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
Beautiful story embedded in elegant and breathtaking prose. Heartbreaking yet hopeful. Will be carried with me for a long, long time. I anticipate many re-reads and new discoveries each time.

A story of Bit - a little Bit of hippie - his parents, his community, and oh so much more. It swells out into the world and shrinks back into itself and each phase is so fulfilling to experience, as a reader.

Too many favorite quotes to put in so I'll just include the very first and the very last:

"The old man's face is changing. Astonishment steals over the hoary features. Startled, Bit can't look away. The eyes blink but come to a stop, open. Bit waits for the next puff of smoke from the cragged nose. When it doesn't come a knot builds in his chest. He lifts his head from Abe's shoulder. Aslow purple spreads over hte old man's lips; a fog, an ice, grows over his eyeballs. Stillness threads itself through the old man... ...In such perfect dawn, even the old man is beautiful, the blue of his beard under the newly luminous skin of his cheek, the softness in his jaw, the tufts in his ears touched golden. He has been gentled in living light. He has been made good."

"Pay attention, he thinks. Not to the grand gesture, but to the passing breath." ( )
  tnociti | Mar 7, 2015 |
40 pages was all I could make myself read. Lots of narrative sloppiness and 'pretty writing.'
  GeoffWyss | Mar 3, 2015 |
Okay, anyone considering writing a book on the hippie communes of the 1960s - 1970s: put down your pen and start pondering a different novel. This is the be-all, end-all, final word on all that.

The Free People are a large collective founded by a charismatic musical leader. They live together in assorted temporary homes on a large landholding with a decayed mansion. They are well organized, with a bakery, gardens, a midwife service. But they are also hungry and cold much of the time, not a great atmosphere for raising children "without ownership", as the idealists dream on.

Bit is a premature baby, son of Abe and Hannah. We see Arcadia through his observant and older-than-his-years eyes. He sees his mother's seasonal depression and his father's clashes with Handy, the founder. He sees the pain of Handy's children, neglected by him and Astrid, who leaves to start a midwife school in Tennessee. He soaks in all the beauty of his physical surroundings and the bumbling incompetence of the collective as they allow visitors to overwhelm their limited resources.

Bit grows to be one of the Ados (adolescents) and although he does everything dumb teenagers do in any environment, his small stature, empathy and loving nature make him a beloved figure in Arcadia. Tragedy befalls as it would even in the suburbs, and the communards struggle on until their notoriety leads to the destruction of Arcadia and the scattering of the one-big-not-always-happy family.

Bit moves into adulthood, missing everyone. As surprising reunions and splits occur, the plot deepens as everything changes and comes to a head when he loses his parents but regains his lost family.

This is a classic, a never-to-be-forgotten magical tale. Thank you, Lauren Groff, for creating this difficult utopia and for understanding fully how those of us what participated were forever shaped by those unique times. ( )
1 vote froxgirl | Jan 18, 2015 |
I'd have enjoyed this one more if its perspective reached out beyond that of its protagonist, Bit. The first half detailing the commune could have been great with a broader perspective. Bit's nostalgia-shrouded later life, taking up the latter half of the book, had less interest for me. ( )
  AThurman | Dec 7, 2014 |
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The lyrical and haunting story of a great American dream--the progress of a utopian community and its lasting impact on a gifted young man.

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