When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a posh Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naive Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted Bliss desperately wants new friends, making her the perfect prey of a troubled girl whose obsession with a long-ago death puts Bliss, and anyone she’s kind to, in mortal danger.
I found this book a little difficult to get into, but once I had got to grips with it I found it a fairly easy read. Set in the late 1960s the book touches on lots of issues including racism, attitudes towards hippies, and the Vietnam war. All of this is in the backdrop to a story of teenage school girls and occultism. If that sounds like a lot to fit into one book, well it is. The main plotline, with Bliss starting at a posh school for her first experience of formal teaching is really interesting, her experiences of the other pupils’ snobbery and predjudice would have made for an excellent read in itself. The occult storyline that is woven in is interesting but sadly I felt that it ran out of steam in its conclusion. I really liked what the author was trying to do, for me it just fell a little short.
The characters in Bliss were all well created and interesting. I really liked Bliss herself and could have happily read much more about her. I also found the character of Sandy intriguing though thoroughly dislikeable – I’m sure this was the intention.
Between chapters the author uses extracts from an anonymous character’s diary, quotes from the Andy Griffith Show and sections from reports of the Manson family trial. These are all used well and build a great atmosphere.
I definitely enjoyed reading this book but I felt the ending let it down a little. It certainly won’t put me off reading other books by this author.
“Bliss” is published in paperback by Amulet books in the UK priced £5.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.