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A new young adult novel, Leaving Kent State (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Sabrina Fedel, brings to life America’s political and social turmoil as it ushered in the new decade of the 1970s. Throughout the harsh winter of 1969-1970, Kent, Ohio, became a microcosm of the growing unrest that threatened the very nature of democracy. On May 4, 1970, the campus of Ke A new young adult novel, Leaving Kent State (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Sabrina Fedel, brings to life America’s political and social turmoil as it ushered in the new decade of the 1970s. Throughout the harsh winter of 1969-1970, Kent, Ohio, became a microcosm of the growing unrest that threatened the very nature of democracy. On May 4, 1970, the campus of Kent State University became the final turning point in Americans’ tolerance for the Vietnam War, as National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed student protestors, killing four and wounding nine shocking the democratic world to its core. Told from the viewpoint of seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli, Leaving Kent State explores themes of the day that are strikingly similar to our own: terrorism, war, racial injustice, and gender inequality. As Rachel struggles to convince her dad that she should go to Pratt Institute in New York to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, Kent slips ever further off of its axis, in step with the growing discord across the nation. Caught between her love for her next door neighbor, Evan, a boy who has just returned from Vietnam, and her desire to escape Kent, Rachel must navigate a changing world in ways she'd never imagined.


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A new young adult novel, Leaving Kent State (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Sabrina Fedel, brings to life America’s political and social turmoil as it ushered in the new decade of the 1970s. Throughout the harsh winter of 1969-1970, Kent, Ohio, became a microcosm of the growing unrest that threatened the very nature of democracy. On May 4, 1970, the campus of Ke A new young adult novel, Leaving Kent State (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Sabrina Fedel, brings to life America’s political and social turmoil as it ushered in the new decade of the 1970s. Throughout the harsh winter of 1969-1970, Kent, Ohio, became a microcosm of the growing unrest that threatened the very nature of democracy. On May 4, 1970, the campus of Kent State University became the final turning point in Americans’ tolerance for the Vietnam War, as National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed student protestors, killing four and wounding nine shocking the democratic world to its core. Told from the viewpoint of seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli, Leaving Kent State explores themes of the day that are strikingly similar to our own: terrorism, war, racial injustice, and gender inequality. As Rachel struggles to convince her dad that she should go to Pratt Institute in New York to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, Kent slips ever further off of its axis, in step with the growing discord across the nation. Caught between her love for her next door neighbor, Evan, a boy who has just returned from Vietnam, and her desire to escape Kent, Rachel must navigate a changing world in ways she'd never imagined.

58 review for Leaving Kent State

  1. 5 out of 5

    LitPick Book Reviews

    War affects everyone, even those not fighting in it. This has never been truer than during the Vietnam War, a time where new generations began questioning the ethics and motives behind war and began challenging those in authority. Living during this chaotic time is seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli. She has grown up near Kent State University, where her father teaches, and she knows the campus like the back of her hand. The only problem is she has no desire to spend the rest of her life there. S War affects everyone, even those not fighting in it. This has never been truer than during the Vietnam War, a time where new generations began questioning the ethics and motives behind war and began challenging those in authority. Living during this chaotic time is seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli. She has grown up near Kent State University, where her father teaches, and she knows the campus like the back of her hand. The only problem is she has no desire to spend the rest of her life there. She has dreams of attending Pratt University in New York and taking its top-notch art program. Rachel knows her goals are far-fetched, since her Dad would never let her go to Pratt and expects her to attend Kent State. Rachel has long awaited the return of someone special from Vietnam. Evan is her neighbor, best friend and secret love. She knows that if he just comes home, the stresses of senior year and convincing her father to let her go to Pratt would disappear. But as soon as she sees Evan, she knows everything has changed. Not only has Evan undergone traumatic events, but he lost part of his hand in the war. Rachel spends her time helping Evan adjust back to normal life, while he helps her work towards her college dream. Will it all be worth it? Will Rachel achieve her dream of attending Pratt? Will Evan ever know how much Rachel loves him, and will he feel the same? Opinion: I really enjoyed reading Leaving Kent State by Sabrina Fedel. The novel is the perfect balance between a love story and historical fiction. I can tell the author did a large amount of research on the Vietnam War, and not just the events but also how people reacted to it and the true feelings of the time period. It feels as if you are transported to the Vietnam War era while reading. The author did a great job of making the novel historically accurate, but it wasn’t overbearing. The historical elements were intertwined with a love story, one so classic and swoon-worthy that you can’t help but become invested. The novel’s descriptive language provided great imagery and ideally set the scene. The novel’s main character, Rachel, is very likeable and shows great character development throughout the novel. Her thoughts and feelings are easy to relate to. Overall, Leaving Kent State is a great novel and I would recommend it to anyone looking for historical fiction with elements of romance. Reviewed by a LitPick student book reviewer Age: 16

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lance Lumley

    This YA takes place during the Kent State University shootings in 1970, and a year before the events. The book follows a girl named Rachel, whose father is a professor at the university, and wants to go to college for art, although her parents want her to go to Kent. On top of trying to convince her parents that art school is better, she deals with her feelings for her friend, who returns injured from Vietnam. Not only does she struggles with letting her feeling known, she tries to handle his fe This YA takes place during the Kent State University shootings in 1970, and a year before the events. The book follows a girl named Rachel, whose father is a professor at the university, and wants to go to college for art, although her parents want her to go to Kent. On top of trying to convince her parents that art school is better, she deals with her feelings for her friend, who returns injured from Vietnam. Not only does she struggles with letting her feeling known, she tries to handle his feelings and mental attitude from dealing with the results of the war. The book is well written. There is a slow build up to the Kent events, but Fedel makes the shootings and the aftermath that more powerful when it happens. The hard thing about doing a historical fiction book is that the reader knows what's coming (especially if you went to Kent State-you know about the shootings), but Fedel's writing skills creates a page turning book that is a great read. For a more in depth review, go to : https://lancewrites.wordpress.com/201...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kelley

    One smart female teen narrator. One wounded Viet Nam vet. One compelling story of how to find your place in the world when it's torn apart by war, rebellion, dashed dreams and shocking violence. This fine debut novel for young and not-so-young adults is beautifully told, meticulously researched, and has at its center a love story full of yearning and suspense. Sabrina Fedel has written a page-turner that informs and engages in equal measure, taking readers on a fully felt, dramatic journey to 19 One smart female teen narrator. One wounded Viet Nam vet. One compelling story of how to find your place in the world when it's torn apart by war, rebellion, dashed dreams and shocking violence. This fine debut novel for young and not-so-young adults is beautifully told, meticulously researched, and has at its center a love story full of yearning and suspense. Sabrina Fedel has written a page-turner that informs and engages in equal measure, taking readers on a fully felt, dramatic journey to 1970 in all its rock music glory and bloody turbulence.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susanna Lancaster

    In the same way that the main character is haunted by the violent Kent State shootings, Leaving Kent State is one of those rare books that stays on your mind long after finishing it. Readers experience the world of 1970 and the horrific effects of the Vietnam War though Rachel's camera lens. You will share both Rachel's joy and heartache as she undergoes a loss of innocence and continuously fights for the affection of her long-time friend, Evan. Rich in historical details and blatant truth, this In the same way that the main character is haunted by the violent Kent State shootings, Leaving Kent State is one of those rare books that stays on your mind long after finishing it. Readers experience the world of 1970 and the horrific effects of the Vietnam War though Rachel's camera lens. You will share both Rachel's joy and heartache as she undergoes a loss of innocence and continuously fights for the affection of her long-time friend, Evan. Rich in historical details and blatant truth, this brilliant debut novel reminds us not to quit hoping--or loving those who matter to us.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Everything about this book is real and true - the characters, their feelings and relationships, the palpable tension in the air in 1969-70 America, the history of the Kent State massacre. Ms. Fedel either lived this story, or she is one hell of a researcher. Either way, she has written a memorable book. Recommended for teens and adults.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Literary Classics Book Awards & Reviews

    May 4, 1970 was a pivotal day in the history of America as National Guardsmen opened fire on un-armed student protestors at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine. But beneath the newspaper clippings and the news-reels were real stories of genuine people who were personally connected to this infamous day in U.S. History. Seventeen-year-old Rachel anxiously awaits the return of her friend and neighbor, Evan who is fighting in Vietnam. But when he comes back, he is a shell of the ma May 4, 1970 was a pivotal day in the history of America as National Guardsmen opened fire on un-armed student protestors at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine. But beneath the newspaper clippings and the news-reels were real stories of genuine people who were personally connected to this infamous day in U.S. History. Seventeen-year-old Rachel anxiously awaits the return of her friend and neighbor, Evan who is fighting in Vietnam. But when he comes back, he is a shell of the man he once was. Theirs is a poignant love story that intertwines seamlessly with the historically accurate backdrop of an iconic moment in history. Leaving Kent State, by Sabrina Fedel, is a work of fiction that transports readers to Kent, Ohio in the 1960s. Rachel is a powerful narrator as she relates the hopes, dreams and fears of a young teenaged girl in love growing up at a time of civil unrest and turmoil. Expertly crafted, and skillfully penned, Leaving Kent State is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

    I simply loved this beautiful tale of love, longing, and the tension consuming a society involved in a war most don’t believe in. Rachel is a smart, relatable narrator and viewing the tragedy at Kent State and the political unrest during the Vietnam war through her eyes provides readers with an intense emotional connection to those events. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judy Moe

    I have had this book on my "to read" list for a few years. My library system does not carry this book but finally found it during a free trial on Kindle Unlimited. I was a sophomore in college when this event occured in 1970 and my husband's cousin was a student there at the time. This book brought memory of this moment from beginning. Vietnam was on everyones mind with the the fighting and the unrest/demonstrations dominating the news. The author has captured this time very well. I felt I was r I have had this book on my "to read" list for a few years. My library system does not carry this book but finally found it during a free trial on Kindle Unlimited. I was a sophomore in college when this event occured in 1970 and my husband's cousin was a student there at the time. This book brought memory of this moment from beginning. Vietnam was on everyones mind with the the fighting and the unrest/demonstrations dominating the news. The author has captured this time very well. I felt I was reliving May 1970, memories immediately surfaced to the fore front of my mind. I commend the author for the research done to capture the times and event, the conflict that dominated all family and student discussions no matter the time or place. The book was very real to me; the students, the war, the return of a serviceman, the family dynamics, the struggles with the very difficult time. I highly recommend this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Isla McKetta

    Reading this book gave me hope. I should tell you that it's very well written and that the period details are spot on and the characters believable. I should tell you that Fedel takes the subtle (and better) path of introducing the reader to people who know people who know people who are famous rather than hitting us over the head with unlikely encounters. Or how she drops in all the right information to ground our reading and hint at where the story is going without inundating us. Or how she pa Reading this book gave me hope. I should tell you that it's very well written and that the period details are spot on and the characters believable. I should tell you that Fedel takes the subtle (and better) path of introducing the reader to people who know people who know people who are famous rather than hitting us over the head with unlikely encounters. Or how she drops in all the right information to ground our reading and hint at where the story is going without inundating us. Or how she paints one of the most tender and accurate portraits of PTSD I've ever seen on paper. All of those things are true. But as much as I love good writing, I am most grateful to Fedel for that gift of hope.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael Anthony

    Usually I’m reading three or four books at once; as I was reading this one, with two others, this is the one that kept me coming back for more, kept me reading into the night. It’s a story of a young couple—a teenage girl in high school and a newly returned Vietnam War veteran—and it takes place in the 60’s. As a more recent veteran myself, I can say with absolute certainty that the author captured what it’s like to return home from war—doesn’t matter which one we’re talking about either. What was Usually I’m reading three or four books at once; as I was reading this one, with two others, this is the one that kept me coming back for more, kept me reading into the night. It’s a story of a young couple—a teenage girl in high school and a newly returned Vietnam War veteran—and it takes place in the 60’s. As a more recent veteran myself, I can say with absolute certainty that the author captured what it’s like to return home from war—doesn’t matter which one we’re talking about either. What was interesting though, was the soldier’s return from war, was mostly captured from the perspective of the teenage girl. I’ve read a lot of war fiction and this is the first time I’ve read a story of a soldier returning home and read about it from the perspective of someone else, in this instance, a teenage (hopeful) sweetheart of the young returned veteran. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy reading about war, and a veteran’s return home from the voice of a teenage girl as narrator, but I found it surprisingly enlightening. Although we don’t get into the veteran’s head, as we do the girl’s, it was interesting to see his actions (influenced by the war, PTSD, Shell-Shock, Battle Fatigue—whatever they called it back then) and experience them through the female rather than the soldier. I’m glad I finally read a book from that perspective. The writing itself was quick, and paced perfectly, and I found the teenage girl as a great narrator for the story. Keep in mind, that this story isn’t just about a returned veteran and his high school friend, in fact, that’s just part of the story. This is historical fiction, and it’s in that genre for a reason, the story also takes place/and leads up to an iconic moment in American history. One of the reasons I love historical fiction is because it gives us a different view of history, a more honest, personable view, and it lets us fill in the blanks with our imagination of what happened around those moments. It was a gratifying, easy read, and if you enjoyed Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime walk, or just historical fiction in general, you’ll definitely enjoy this book

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Arp

  12. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Kander

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam ALabre

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Potter

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan Halley

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    It was ok. I don't care for romance novels so that element of the story was wasted on me. Read it because it takes place in a time and place I know well, I was there. Fairly accurate, although there were a couple of small details I felt were off. It was ok. I don't care for romance novels so that element of the story was wasted on me. Read it because it takes place in a time and place I know well, I was there. Fairly accurate, although there were a couple of small details I felt were off.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stelladonna Leone

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leah Pileggi

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Joyner

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kori

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arlene Updyke

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rikki

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  25. 4 out of 5

    Missy

  26. 4 out of 5

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  27. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Otoole

  29. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rose Viña

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lindy

  32. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Shader

  33. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  34. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  36. 4 out of 5

    Lorra

  37. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  38. 5 out of 5

    Manda

  39. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  40. 4 out of 5

    Mary A.

  41. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  42. 5 out of 5

    Stacia Chappell

  43. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  44. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

  45. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  46. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Obrien

  47. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  48. 4 out of 5

    J Collins

  49. 5 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  50. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  51. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  52. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Rothman

  53. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  54. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Taylor-Cruz

  55. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Gunning

  56. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Miller

  57. 5 out of 5

    Cheri Clark

  58. 4 out of 5

    Mary

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