groovin' book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Rich Israel’s playful, bright and fantastical memoir of the 1960’s experience is a fun, well-written read for fans of counterculture and coming-of-age tales. Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes is raucous, trippy and expressive, full of adventure, hijinks and personal discoveries. From hitchhiking, to a month long horseback riding adventure out west, Rich takes the reader through a time that many can only read about and others will remember fondly.

The book reminded me of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, full of crazy characters, road trips, adventures and drugs, but peppered with self- reflection, excellent insight and the running political commentary in the background. Israel is free-spirited and fun-loving, but at no point, in spite of some of the situations he finds himself in (or puts himself in), do you feel that he is out of control or unaware. The book is laugh out loud funny and very well-written, the acid trips are even eloquent and Israel’s thoughts on love, life and politics are relatable. The stories from the past that he includes, add a dream-like quality when he goes back to times in his life and just further add to the story. Each leg of Israel’s journey is interesting, his friends are funny and helpful and as he travels through 1967 and beyond; Israel’s quiet intelligence and good humor comes through every step of the way. With a background in engineering and also biological science, the author pays careful attention to natural details and landscapes and Israel never stops learning or growing. From one adventure to the next, the free-wheeling style of the sixties is really alive in Israel and in Groovin’.

Rich Israel has the ability to make fantastic adventures seem normal and transports the reader back to a time where almost anything would fly and adventure and cultivating new experiences were often the ultimate goal. Hopefully the next installment of Israel’s adventures is just as enjoyable.

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader.

Review copy was provided by Rich Israel.