Arcadia by Lauren Groff
Lauren Groff is back with a decidedly different flavor compared to her debut, The Monsters of Templeton. In her second book, Ms. Groff tells a tumultuous tale of hippie idealists in the 1970s, who receive a tract of land in rural New York, complete with derelict mansion which they lovingly restore and name Arcadia. The story is centered around young Bit, his mother Hannah, and his father Abe, a quiet and magnanimous figure who gives Arcadia its strength behind the flashy leadership of Handy.
Ms. Groff adeptly details the pride and perils of a counter society; the small bodies that go hungry under the disdain of consumer driven mainstream culture, the influx of runaways who steal from the commune to fund their next high, and the eggshell thin foundation of a community constructed under utopian ideals. In fact, much of the book has a dystopian twinge, ultimately redeemed by the path of Bit who finds his way in the disorderly outside world.
Arcadia blooms under Ms. Groff’s characteristic prose; wild brush strokes of words hemmed in with the poetic restraint of a knowledgeable hand. A great springtime read.