A troubled fourteen-year-old girl runs away in 70’s California and meets an outlandish assortment of individuals including cannibals, warlocks, and bikers as she settles into a world of drugs, promiscuity, and life on the street in First Trip by Cheryl Taylor.
Our heroine, Dawn, is a free spirit in every sense with her own unique way of managing diverse situations. Like runways from any generation, Dawn ran from a difficult home life. Her father left when she was a child and the relationship between her mother and step-father was tumultuous at best. Smoking and drinking become coping mechanisms as a preteen. With the seventies drug scene blooming around her it wasn’t long before she indulged. She would sample everything from cannabis to cocaine, with acid being the choice drug for escaping home or from school where she also did not fit in. Stints in juvenile detention did little to discourage Dawn from skipping school or from not returning home at night.
After continued friction and some shocking abuse at the hands of her mom and step-father, Dawn runs away for good. She follows her heart and the music of the time. Attractive and young, she has no problem finding rides to take her on her journey. However, the author has a knack for placing her protagonist into trouble and each chapter finds Dawn in another life-and-death jam. Dawn moves from man to man and from party to party, never staying with either for long. Men help keep away loneliness and are a source of drugs and in return she gives her body. Finally in San Francisco she gets involved in intravenous drug use and petty crime.
Author Cheryl Taylor slowly reveals the pain that has driven Dawn to such a dangerous lifestyle. This wasn’t a short book; however I was hooked from the opening pages and read it in one sitting. I couldn’t wait to see how Dawn would handle or even survive her next quandary. This book is a time warp back to the seventies, however it is much more than a romp though that carefree decade. It is a coming-of-age tale of overcoming abuse and neglect that is both moving as well as entertaining. I would have liked a bit more descriptive narrative at times as I didn’t always have a clear picture of secondary characters and some scenes. This was a minor problem as the author more than kept me intrigued with her quirky humor and fast pace. First Trip is listed as fiction by the publisher; however, it reads more like a memoir. Whether this story is entirely the author’s imagination or is based on truth, it is a captivating book well worth reading.
Highly recommended by William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews
Cheryl Taylor grew up in Pacific Grove and attended PG high. While on a school field trip with her kids to a printing press, she fell in love with the whole process of producing a newspaper and got a job at the King City Rustler working as a typesetter and darkroom tech. In 1997 she started her own business, the Avenal Chimes. It was adjudicated as a newspaper of general circulation in 2000. The paper is now published by Cheryl's oldest daughter, Heather. Cheryl now has more time for the other loves in life; writing, watercolor painting, and photography. She has five children and presently lives in Avenal, Ca.
First Trip: Sex, Drugz, and Rock & Roll in the 70'z
AuthorHouse (February 23, 2010)