These candid and often humorous presentations of growing up in a strict fundamentalist family in southern California in the '60s and '70s land on target. Her family may have defined itself as evangelical, but I'll quibble. Still, Howley describes experiences much like my own in Ohio a decade earlier, though we were more mainline Protestant and I had only a sister rather than four siblings.
What we get from the outset is a sense of the perceived threat of everything the hippie movement represented – a view that quickly extends to anything beyond the family's embattled circle. Her father, especially, comes off as a one-dimensional patriarch, and I wish for more understanding of him as a person. We do get some strong glimpses into his insensitivity as a husband, but nothing of him as a tragic figure.
On the other hand, I expected the author to flee into psychedelic release at the earliest opportunity. It turns out she's too prudent for that, though she does move into the wider world without ever really turning "bad." Oh, sigh.
I also anticipated that her religious training might have led her into social activism of some kind, as the word "do-gooder" often conveys. Not so, though she wasn't a "goody two-shoes," either.
Somehow, the Mobi edition I was reading was laced with bothersome hyphens in the middle of words. I allow a degree of grammatical and typographical errors in self-published material, but the excess here needs to be flagged. The hyphens turn into a kind of stutter.
Howley's memoir cracks through the sugarcoating of sit-coms set in the era. She catches the angst of trying to navigate social circles and make sense of a subculture (to my mind, at least) gone astray. I'm left feeling she has much more to say in this vein, especially in light of her years since childhood and adolescence. I hope she goes for it.
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)