1968 — A season of siren songs, loosened bonds, and turbulent change
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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, 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 marked by beauty and social change―and for a girl, that’s no Summer of Love.
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, scary, 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