Love & Haight by Susan Carlton


Published: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: ARC from Raincoast Books (thank you!)
Find the author: Goodreads || Website
Buy: Amazon || B&N || The Book Depository

~ The Blurb ~
From Goodreads

It’s 1971, and seventeen-year-old Chloe and her best friend MJ head to San Francisco to ring in the New Year. But Chloe has an ulterior motive—and a secret. She’s pregnant and has devised a plan not to be. In San Francisco’s flower-power heyday, it was (just about) legal to end her pregnancy.

But as soon as the girls cross the Golden Gate, the scheme starts to unravel amid the bellbottoms, love-beads, and bongs. Chloe’s secrets escalate until she betrays everyone she cares about. MJ, who has grave doubts about Chloe’s plan. Her groovy aunt Kiki, who’s offered the girls a place to crash. Her self-absorbed mother meditating back in Phoenix. And maybe, especially, the boy she wishes she’d waited for.

~ My Thoughts ~

Love & Haight is a fun, and slightly tripped out, walk through the streets of San Francisco in 1971. It touches on family connections, love lost and love found, friendship and what it takes to really know yourself and follow your convictions. Love & Haight is written in a deliciously witty and psychedelic narrative that makes it a completely enjoyable and entirely too quick read.

I was really excited to pick up Love and Haight, the 1970s San Francisco setting was instantly attractive and I was completely fascinated with the subject matter. Chloe is a 17 year old girl who takes a road trip with her best friend to San Francisco where it is almost legal to have an abortion. I don’t know much about abortion laws in the 1970s but this book reads like the author did her research. I instantly fell in love with Carlton’s writing style, it was fresh, kind of cheeky and the entire book read like I was having a conversation with my best friend (which was awesome). Love and Haight was a super quick read for me and I’m not sure if it was my interest in what would happen to Chloe or Carlton’s addictive style but I read this book in two sittings.

Unfortunately I felt as though there was just too much going on in this book for only 192 pages. There was the prominent story of Chloe and her desire, and struggle, to secure herself an appointment to have an abortion. There was MJ the best friend who wanted to be there for Chloe but was struggling with her own religious beliefs about abortion making it next to impossible to support Chloe in a way that she needed. Then there was aunt Kiki whose life could have had an entire book dedicated to it alone. And I haven’t even started to talk about the romance with Teddy – the boy Chloe wished that she had waited for. I felt like I was reading the first couple of chapters of a larger book, and just wanted so much more detail and explanation. Love & Haight could have been a really great book for me but there just wasn’t enough there. I was left with a lot of questions and felt as though neither the relationships, or events, were given the time they needed to really come to life.  I was also really disappointed in the ending; there wasn’t really an ending the book just sort of stopped.

That being said, I really enjoyed reading what was there. Chloe’s narrative was a treat and all of the little details, from the music quotes to Chloe’s asides, added to the experience of reading this novel. Carlton did manage to showcase a number of different viewpoints on abortion through the characters and I found it particularly interesting how she portrayed the effects of Chloe’s decision to have an abortion as it pertained to the other characters in the novel. 

Love & Haight had the potential to be a great and thought provoking book. The 1970s backdrop added some light and humor to the extremely serious nature of the plot but unfortunately because of the lack of follow through with the characters, their emotions, and the events of the novel this book fell flat for me. I don’t need my novels to tie up neatly with a bow at the end but I like their to actually be an end – Chloe, Teddy, Kiki, MJ and Virginia are all sort of suspended in thin air and it just doesn’t feel like their stories were given any closure at all. I definitely enjoyed Love and Haight but it didn’t wow me or completely live up to my hopes.

I received an ARC of Love & Haight from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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