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A season of siren songs and loosened bonds ― as well as war, campaign slogans, and assassination...
At the height of the Vietnam War protests, Washington lawyer Tom Rayson uproots his family for the freewheeling city of Berkeley. While Tom pursues a romance with a sexy colleague in the Marin County woods, Marian joins a peace party that’s running a Black Panther for president and meets the Berkeley revolution. But for young Alice, her parents’ liberating forays become a blind leap in a city engulfed by social change―and for a girl, that’s no Summer of Love.
Feeling estranged from her family, Alice falls in with Jim and Valerie Dupres, whose dad is selling jeans and making revolution. As family and school fade away in a tear-gas fog, Alice feels an ambiguous freedom. Caught up in a rebellion that feels equally compelling and absurd, Alice could become a casualty, or she could defy the odds and become her own person. One thing is sure: there’s no going back.
2021 International Book Awards Finalist in Fiction: Literary
2021 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist in Fiction: Social Issues
“Playground Zero is an exceptional piece of literary fiction that puts Sarah Relyea in a league of her own. The characters are unique and authentic to the era and geography.” — Readers’ Favorite (5-star review)
“This exquisitely written novel is the anti-cliche—all is real and captivatingly true and surprising.” — Amazon (5-star review)
“This is a powerful, historical drama. Well constructed.” — Readers’ Favorite (5-star review)
“An eerily compelling déjà vu of the free, wild, and jeopardy-ridden kid scene in late-1960s Berkeley. Uncanny and powerful.” — Charles Degelman, Editor, Harvard Square Editions
“This intense retrospective on people yanked out of the strait-laced Fifties and tossed into a culture of anything goes will appeal to readers wanting to learn more about Berkeley’s days of rage.” — G. J. Berger, Historical Novel Society