Cinnamon Girl by Trish MacEnulty <— TEEN ON THE RUN & GETTING IN TROUBLE!! JUST RECENTLY RELEASED & IS TODAY’S NEWSLETTER SPONSOR!!!
It’s 1970. Eli Burnes is 15. Her crush is dodging the draft. Her dad is helping fugitives escape the law. And she has no idea what’s happened to her mom.
In a world without Internet, what did teenagers do for fun? Bottle rocket wars, of course.
In 1970, drinking the Kool-aid had a very different meaning than it does today. Especially if you were at a Grateful Dead concert.
Eli’s crush, Wolfgang, is about to get drafted to fight in Vietnam. The only other option is running to Canada. But can he get there? Especially with a 15-year-old girl?
Five facts about CG :
- I read excerpts every summer to teenagers attending a summer arts camp. They were my biggest fans and encouraged me to write the book.
- The character of Mattie is loosely based on my godmother. I’ll never forget the life size portrait of her that hung in their house. Pearls, crimson gown, and all. Miz Johnny is based on Suzy, the woman who worked for her as a domestic helper. They were quite close, which was unusual for that time period.
- All of the historical events in the book are true. James Brown really did go back to Augusta after the riot to try to help restore peace.
- When I was Eli’s age I really did run away from home with a draft dodger. But I came home safe and sound a few weeks later.
- This era really was the birth of FM radio and that had a huge influence on the culture.
Here’s the synopsis:
When her beloved step-grandmother, a semi-retired opera singer, dies of cancer in 1970, 15-year-old Eli Burnes runs away with a draft-dodger, thinking she’s on the road to adventure and romance. What she finds instead is a world of underground Weathermen, Black Power revolutionaries, snitches and shoot-first police.
Eventually Eli is rescued by her father, who turns out both more responsible and more revolutionary than she’d imagined.
But when he gets in trouble with the law, she finds herself on the road again, searching for the allies who will help her learn how to save herself.
“Eli is a winning character – imagine Harper Lee’s Scout as a teenage runaway, or maybe Huck Finn as a girl. More than a compelling story, it’s a time-machine visit to a particular American moment.”
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse: “Cinnamon Girl”
- Moody Blues: “Nights in White Satin”
- Elton John: “Your Song”
- Grateful Dead: “Truckin”
- Grace Slick:”White Rabbit”
- Janis Joplin: “Me and Bobby McGee”
- The opera La Boheme
Thanks to Mattie, my grandfather’s second wife, I spent my childhood as a small adult.
Mattie had spirited me away from my alcoholic mother before I was two years old. The story Miz Johnny told me was that Carmella (my mother) was living in a two-bedroom trailer on the outskirts of town when Mattie stopped by one day to check up on me after my dad and my mom had split up. Mattie found my mother sprawled on the couch wearing high heels and a black slip with an empty Jack Daniels bottle tucked in the crook of her arm, and me trapped and crying in a playpen, wearing nothing but a dirty diaper. Mattie took me away that day, and then sometime after that – the details get fuzzy – my mother got on a Greyhound bus and never came back. My dad lit out for the West Coast shortly after she left. Grandaddy died of a stroke when I was four, and I hardly remember him anyway.That left me and Mattie and Miz Johnny, a maid whose family had been interlinked with mine since the days of slavery – not one of us related by blood but bound together nonetheless – in a big brick house on a hill in Augusta, Georgia, a few blocks from the Savannah River.
My dad, Billy Burnes, never made it as far as the West Coast. He spent a couple of years at Southern Illinois University before dropping out to become a D.J. at a Top-40 radio station in St. Louis. He visited us every Christmas and usually for a week or so during the summers. The summer after I turned nine years old, he brought a pregnant girl named Cleo with him and said she was his wife. We never saw or heard from my mother. Mattie never mentioned her. And who was I to miss a person I couldn’t remember? Especially when I had Mattie and Miz Johnny. Mattie spoiled me, and Miz Johnny disciplined me when she could catch me.
Before marrying my wealthy grandfather, Mattie had been a world-class opera singer. In order to entice her in to marrying him, he bought the old theater in downtown Augusta so she could turn it into her very own opera house. She was getting older anyway so she took the offer. While other kids stayed home at night watching “Bonanza,” I was at the Southern Opera Guild. For hours I played dress up in elaborate costumes or had swordfights with imaginary enemies in the rehearsal room. During performances I would turn pages for the pianist or sit in the lighting booth and read cues for the spotlight man. When rehearsals ran late, I slept backstage on the piles of black curtains while the sound of arias shrouded me like a dream. Sometimes I spied furtive kissing in the rehearsal room. Sometimes men kissed other men, sometimes they kissed women whose husbands were at home, drinking scotch.
I didn’t have friends my own age, but it felt as though Mattie’s friends were my friends. Since I considered myself a small adult, and they considered themselves large children, we met somewhere in between. Our house was the central location for evening parties where they sang showtunes around the Steinway that Carl played, hunched over the keys, a cigarette in his mouth, a highball glass on a stack of sheet music. I usually stretched out underneath the piano with my marbles or plastic horses and created stories till I fell asleep.
When I was twelve, a girl named Gretchen moved from half-way across the world with her German father and American mother. She was an outsider, like me, and for the first time I had a friend my own age. I liked Gretchen a lot, but the real attraction was her older brother named Wolfgang, an aloof philosophical boy with shaggy hair and bushy eyebrows, a boy who made my teeth sweat the first time I saw him.
Beyond the borders of our small town, all kinds of things were going on. Rock music had conquered the world, men in puffy white suits were jumping on the moon, a crazy man shot down Martin Luther King, Jr. and another one gunned down Bobby Kennedy. After both killings the house on the hill went into mourning though I didn’t understand why we cried over the deaths of men we had never met. There were riots and revolutions and hippies and Woodstock and all kinds of things the good citizens of Augusta, Georgia, tried to ignore, but the world would not be ignored. It was slouching toward us inexorably and arrived in a rain of smoke and ash in May, 1970. But it was not the brutal race riot that ended my perfect childhood. My perfect childhood dissolved a few months earlier when something growing inside Mattie suddenly emerged and stole the life out of her. I was fourteen years old.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY:
How to enter for a chance to win it?
Just leave a comment below (or better yet, if you have an exciting/crazy teenage memory… or your favorite tumultuous teen book, tell us 😉 ), and by 10pm EST, Sunday, October 1st, 2023, I will randomly select one lucky commenter as the winner).
The winner will be contacted and will have 48hrs to respond confirming their mailing address, so if you are picked, do not delay or you will lose your chance. The book will be sent to the winner by the author (depending on the winner’s location, they will either get a signed paperback or a digital copy).