“Ilene English, a woman-warrior with a wide-open heart, was already breaking racial and sexual taboos before the flowering of the counter-culture. Her spare, candid style is the perfect vehicle to carry the reader from East-Coast to West-Coast, traditional-life to Bohemian-freedom, and ultimately to the flowering of wisdom. I so enjoyed this book.”– Peter Coyote, actor, author, Zen Buddhist priest
It’s widely recognized that the hippies of the 1960’s spawned a cultural revolution that still resonates worldwide today. A time when freedom of thought and religion, free love, psychedelic drug use, eco-conscious lifestyles, and communal living became the norm, their rejection of mainstream American culture and embracement of civic protest left a lasting impact on the nation. For author Ilene English, it marked the start of her life-long journey to discovering that even though painful experiences deeply affect us, beneath the pain, and at our core, we remain whole and intact.
In her debut memoir, Hippie Chick: Coming of Age in the ‘60s [She Writes Press, September 24, 2019], English shares her deeply personal story about a ‘nice Jewish girl’, who at sixteen was thrust by the death of her mother into a lifestyle way beyond what she was ready for and that challenged all previous notions of how one behaves. Leaving New Jersey behind forever, she flies to San Francisco, a graduation gift from her big sister. It is 1963, and we are brought along as she becomes completely immersed in the unfolding of the Sixties during the earliest days of sexual freedom, psychedelic drugs, jazz and rock n’ roll. Hippie Chick is her discovery about herself and life, and her journey to become who she is today.
Filled with a rich tapestry of moments that run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous (and everything in between), Hippie Chick is seen through the eyes of a young woman traversing the smoke-filled clubs of San Francisco when Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis played, late-night chess sessions of musicians and intellectuals, rock concerts in Hawai’i, The Farm in Tennessee, and the infamous Oregon County Fair. With candor, insight and humor, she shares intimate details of her journey through those years of growth from adolescence to adulthood. In the end, she prevails against early deprivation and loss, both losing her mother at 16, and then her idolized big sister at 22, and uses her painful experiences to try harder (and love more) in the act of survival and with the determination not to be defeated. This is the emotional fuel of her memoir. Even though parts of the story are sad, this isn’t a sad story; it’s a heroic one.
Over the course of her writing, English tells us, “I am able to witness that young girl using her innate intelligence and fairly healthy instincts to find her way. From this vantage point, I feel great compassion for her. She had quite an indomitable spirit, and I love that she never gave up. If I were a young woman today, I bet I would give myself much more permission to be bold, fierce, independent, and powerful.”
In the epilogue, we learn that she and her daughter go off to college at the same time. With the help of a supportive and devoted partner, she then earns a master’s degree and eventually, in 1993, receives her license in the State of California to become a Marriage & Family Therapist.
Resonating on a multitude of levels, Hippie Chicklooks at the conflicts, struggles, and pitfalls the author faces trying to achieve her goals, as well as how her journey impacts her development as a woman, a single mother and as a human being, and explores:
- The willingness to move through life and not get stuck in a place out of fear or hopelessness
- Helping young women find their voice
- The impact of having a seriously ill mother
- How humans struggle to find meaningful relationships that can offer both freedom and a sense of belonging
- Understanding that women deserve better
- Support, hope and useful information for solo parents
- Addressing the difficulties of navigating through grief and loss
- The importance of having a support system
- And, so much more!
- Hippie Chick: Coming of Age in the ‘60swill be released on September 24, 2019 and is available for pre-order on Amazon