Picks and Pans Review: Split: a Counterculture Childhood
In 1963, when Lisa Michaels was 4 months old, her parents—a passionate but ill-matched pair of radical activists—separated. Three years later, her father was sent to prison for over two years for taking part in a violent protest against the Vietnam War. Split, Lisa Michaels' wry, eloquent memoir, chronicles the aftermath of these events—a childhood spent on rural communes, traveling and living in a mail truck with her mother and stepfather and her later shuttling back and forth between her parents, who started new families in different parts of California and resolutely maintained their commitment to social justice and their scorn for middle-class materialism. The book ends with Michaels' moving description of her recent wedding to her college boyfriend from UCLA.
Neither self-pitying nor judgmental, Michaels gives us a vivid sense of the times through which she has lived, a portrait of two people who were a little too good for this world and for their own child. It is also a moving account of how we grow up and establish our own identities by learning to navigate the fine line between loyalty and independence. (Houghton Mifflin, $23)
Bottom Line: Thoughtful memoir from a flower-power kid grown up