Reviews for Children of the Canyon

“Time capsule… A visionary, kaleidoscopic reverie about America in the 1970s, seen through the prism of an innocent mind and pure spirit. The trajectory of the narrator’s life puts him on a collision course with many of the seminal events of the epoch as they unfolded in the narcissistic counterculture of Lauren Canyon. If you lived through these years, you are liable to feel deep pangs of nostalgia, tap into buried reservoirs of pain or bliss, and have dead memories shaken into new life. Don’t let its ingratiating surface fool you, this book’s depths are treacherous and formidable. A debut novel you won’t soon forget.” –Trumbo123
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“Innocence Lost…  love this book. A coming of age story that is relatable for all readers. The protagonist’s observations and thoughts about the world and people around him are poignant, thought provoking, and told with the type of stark honesty and candor only children seem capable of.” –BB Cook
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“A Great New Voice… With his first novel, David Kukoff makes an enjoyable and noteworthy entry into today’s literary scene. His writing is engaging, unpredictable, creative and thoughtful. He cleverly and subtly develops his characters using the first-person voice of a child who ages year by year throughout the novel. His historical references add a nice layer of depth and context to his story of one family’s journey through the turbulent 1970s. This is a perfect book to enjoy anywhere — at home, on a plane, on a beach, on a train, or wherever one may find oneself with a little free time.” –Jon Bauman
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Richly-detailed SoCal coming of age saga… Mr. Kukoff has crafted a witty, breezy and observant first novel that perfectly captures the joys and wonder of growing up in Southern California in the 70’s. But more so, he’s excavated the dark underbellies and competing impulses that lay latent below the sunshine and smiles. And it’s all told from the perspective of a child grappling with the rapidly shifting cultural and familial landscapes. If Kevin Arnold from TV’s The Wonder Years had a narrated a tale that went beyond sun-drenched nostalgia and focused more on social dislocation, anomie and families torn asunder by drugs and wanderlust, this is precisely the kind of story he would have told.” –Bryan Behar
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“Bless the Beat and the Children… The music scene in Laurel Canyon in the ’60s and ’70s has been the subject of many books and drugged out tales. But nowhere have I seen the era and story told from the perspective of the children who were lucky/unlucky enough to be raised in this crazed environment. Until now. Mr. Kukoff has written an eye-opening novel filled with heart, humor, and insight. Pull up a chair, put on a Joni Mitchell album and enjoy this little treasure.” –Ken Levine
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A good view from atop this canyon… Like the canyon in which it’s set, Kukoff’s book cuts deep into strata. The story drills into the layers of the social history, music, and politics of 1970s Los Angeles as the coming-of-age protagonist David tries to make sense of the sex-drugs-and-rock-‘n’-roll-fueled activism around every curve. David and his childhood friends intelligently invoke humor and mathematical concepts to wind their way around crumbling counterculture and shifting families. A fun ride for me (an Angelino who loves a good mathematical reference), Children of the Canyon (I’d hypothesize) will appeal to anyone who likes social history, characters with depth, and a bit of a romance. It’s a book worth reading—more than once.” –Lynne Friedman
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I read this in one sitting, couldn’t put it down! Maybe it is because I grew up at the same time in the same area. This is an interesting account of a sliver of time that was so different from anything before or after. When I talk with the friend I have from the 70’s in San Fernando Valley we all feel like we really got away with something getting to grow up during that time. It may be all over now, but what a fun trip down memory lane. I think I’ll read it again!” –Huna Kai
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An observant insightful story about growing up in the 70’s in Los Angeles… My initial review gave this jewel of a first novel four stars but I am revising this to five because I keep thinking about it. This is a wonderful first novel that is funny, poignant, fanciful and beautifully written. A penetrating story about growing up, separation and love. A glimpse of the fragility and resilience of childhood; a search for identity and struggles of facing a world of contrasting values. Not a one-time read. The author skillfully captures the struggles of a child sorting out values in a world not made of his choosing.”
–Ellen A. Solebury, PA
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A book about loss and coming of age in California’s Laurel Canyon… I had an opportunity to read Dave Kukoff’s Children of the Canyon Recently. Mr. Kukoff weaves a coming-of-age tale in the browns, yellows, and oranges of the 1970’s. For those of us who are of a certain age, it feels like an ABC after-school special of a early summer’s evening with banana-seated five speed bikes, 60’s counterculture, and playground bullies. The story follows a young man through his childhood in the Laurel Canyon area of LA and beyond. The prose is descriptive, emotional, but accessible, increasing in complexity only as his main character ages towards adulthood and more complex thoughts. It is a tale of loss – loss of parents, loss of friends, loss of innocence. There is a yearning and searching that arcs through the years as well. For Los Angelinos, this novel will certainly resonate. For the rest of us, it is as identifiable as the TV neighborhoods we grew up with in the 70’s – Brady Bunch re-runs, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, almost any sitcom we watched before 9pm on a weeknight. That imagined world we were shown on TV is now fictionalized in Mr. Kukoff’s book – and credibly posited – just as real as we suspected. Recommended.” –Stephen B.
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A sad and hopeful coming-of-age tale. Against the backdrop of Los Angeles in the 1970s, and the collapse of the nation’s and one family’s idealism, Kukoff captures the misty feelings of growing up, of standing on the fringes of the adult world, understanding it both deeply and incompletely. Funny and very bittersweet. A big thumbs-up!” –Benjamin L. Douglas
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Sharply observant and impressively crafted. Children of the Canyon is the story of children of those so stupefied by ideology (and hallucinogens) that they cannot render it manifest in any tangible sense. But it is not a narrative reliant upon the specific brand of negligent parenting incurred by 1960s counterculture. Nor is it reliant upon Nixon, the Vietnam War, or even Southern California. It is the story of every child with flashbulb memories of things they could not explain then and now cannot reconcile. It is the story of every child who has found himself unwilling, disillusioned, or abandoned. Every child who has come to the chilling realization that his parents will not, or cannot, give sanctuary. Every child who has been shrewdly attuned and therefore resultantly lost. Everyone has been — in a manner of varying intensity and context — David.” –Danielle Yuppa
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