Arcadia by Lauren Groff
Synopsis:In the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this romantic utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday. Arcadia’s inhabitants include Handy, the charismatic leader; his wife, Astrid, a midwife; Abe, a master carpenter; Hannah, a baker and historian; and Abe and Hannah’s only child, Bit. While Arcadia rises and falls, Bit, too, ages and changes. He falls in love with Helle, Handy’s lovely, troubled daughter. And eventually he must face the world beyond Arcadia.
Review: Did you ever wonder what it was like to live on a commune? Lauren Groff gives a good description of what it is like to grow up on a commune never knowing life outside of its boundaries. The cooperation, the love, the jealousy, the freedom and the prison. Through the eyes of Bit you experience Arcadia, where he was born and raised until he was 13, when he is forced to flee with his parents.
I loved the description of the first half of this book. Even after Bit leaves the commune and is forced to live outside the walls the book really captures his struggles but it jumps the shark a bit at the end with unnecessary plagues and apocalyptic themes. I almost wish the book had stopped when they left Arcadia, instead of leaving me cold in the end.