Friday, December 18, 2009

REVIEW: "Electric Honey" by Author Sam Love

I have read many books over the past several years, but it takes a special type of book to make me revisit it and take the time to reread it. "Electric Honey", however, has become one of those books.

We see it all the time: two people are a part of the same event or conversation, yet both come away with different perspectives depending on what they perceive as most important to them.

Written by native Southerner Sam Love, Electric Honey takes that premise to a new level as he writes about a mother and daughter's adventures during the colorful years of the 1960s - and how they actually had more in common than they realized.

Love was a student at Mississippi State during the 60s and was active in anti-war organizing and other events of the time. Though the book is a work of fiction, it does draw from some of his experience of the events and social ideals of the period.

When the story opens, we find Peach, one of the main characters, discovering her mother's diaries while clearing out the attic in preparation for the home being sold.

The book is written in Peach's voice, so we are able to hear her thoughts as she reads about her mother's at the same time.

It's a brilliant way of comparing and contrasting, because we are getting the pure truth from both women. A truth that would not be evident any other way.

If I'm to be honest here, I have never been very interested in the '60s. Occasionally you hear people mention some of the craziness that is normally associated with that time, but I never cared much.

This book, however, made me want to know more.

In reading it, I saw what Peach came to realize as she poured over her mother's journals - there really is nothing new under the sun.

There are so many parallels to what happened 40 or so years ago to what is going on today, that you can see why parents can appreciate some of the madness we are experiencing, while others panic and are ready to admit defeat. Sam Love shows us that such was the case then as well.

You had individuals who were so concerned about keeping order and stability that they were willing to raise all kinds of havoc to do so.

At the same time you had young, wide-eyed young people who were willing to question and understand things outside of their comfort zone, and instead of being encouraged, some tried to crush them. Sound familiar?

What Peach comes to understand at the end of the book is that she really wasn't so different from her mother after all. They both had their own sense of curiosity, adventure and substance; but at the time, they seemed to focus on the things that separated them.

I think we have all learned that is never the way. I should mention that when we do meet Peach, she is not only a mother, but a grandmother and with these milestones behind her. I suspect this has done much to refine her ideals as well.

The lessons I took from Electric Honey?

Things are not always as they appear to be, no matter how "informed" you think you might be on a particular subject. Instead of focusing so much time on what separates us, let's take a little time to look for some common ground.

By doing this, someone we once looked at as an enemy might just end up as one of our closest friends.

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