LiberationAmerica's bicentenial year provide the backdrop for Ambrosia's romance, "Liberation" and carries with it quite a message. Central to the plot are a group of teens who's lives, and often clashing opinions, intersect.
by Linda Ambrosia
It’s the bright summer of 1976, and the whole population of Sunbeam Township is gearing up for their Bicentennial Fair. The only one not celebrating is local outcast Bess Hawkins. An orphaned teenager, she’s routinely bullied by her wealthy uncle, Jason Trask, and his daughter Loretta. When an Arabic refugee, Rama Chandra, moves into this sleepy little community, he suspects that Bess is being beaten by her guardians. Whisking Bess away from the Trask mansion, he hides her out at his country estate. This leads to a confrontation that teaches everyone in town the true meaning of freedom.
Polite but strong-minded teen Loretta Task makes up her mind quickly, and never hesitates to share an opinion. Its a lucky thing that she is basically a nice person. Rama, more polite, is seemingly adept at dealing with the new, and with disapproval. Bess, who's differences are mostly a matter of choice--like wearing older style clothing, at times seems to embody some of the less-than-likable traits of the times, almost to the point of being stereotypical. As so often it seems, the football team is predictably dense, rude, and worse.
The historical information is well researched, from those first designer jeans to the stern feminism: these are aspects of this story that are a treat for the memory. For all that it is historical, it includes some timely (and sympathetic) treatment of immigrants. Cultural differences and family disapproval, to say nothing of various levels of racism and intolerance, and even the impact of different class backgrounds are explored. Any one of thses could make any relationship difficult, especially as the age group is late teen. Awkward as things are at times, the strength of the main characters shines through.
This is a complex story, firmly planted in a very interesting time in America. The issues that seem 'so seventies' still have impact today. The characters, behaviors, and challenges are all thought-provoking. Certain descriptions could be clearer, and some characters fall rather heavily into stereotypes and lack credibility. At times, the point of view changes seem abrupt.
Yet, the main characters are strong and interesting throughout. The story line is engaging and original. This is a very unusual romance: I'm giving it 3 books for some issues, but was impressed enough that I will be looking for Ambrosia's next work.
review by Snapdragon