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Siren songs and loosened bonds. War, campaign slogans, and assassination....
1968. When the Raysons leave D.C. for the gathering anarchy of Berkeley, twelve-year-old Alice embraces the moment in America’s cultural ground zero. Feeling estranged from her family and school, Alice falls in with Jim and Valerie Dupres. Jim and Valerie have been learning the ropes on Telegraph Avenue and camping out in People’s Park. As family and school fade away in a tear-gas fog, Alice feels an ambiguous freedom. Following the Summer of Love, she must find her way through a new world where street signs hang backward and there’s a bootleg candy called Orange Sunshine. 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
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