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A Thousand Steps    by T. Jefferson Parker order for
Thousand Steps
by T. Jefferson Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

T. Jefferson Parker's A Thousand Steps is a gripping coming of age mystery that opens in 1968 Laguna Beach, California at the height of the Age of Aquarius. We're introduced to sixteen-year-old Matt Anthony, whose elder brother Kyle is fighting in Viet Nam. His father is long gone and his mom (Julie) is usually high.

Seeing cops on the beach, Matt goes to see what's happening and recognizes the dead girl, Bonnie Stratmeyer. She'd been missing for two months. When he gets home, Matt finds his older sister Jazz, a straight-A student and budding musician, gone. He worries as they are very close and she's never not come home before. Matt starts searching for her, in between delivering newspapers and other odd jobs.

In this town, the authorities 'think the young are all drug addicts, draft dodgers, sex fiends, and communists' - there's little trust on both sides. As he seeks his sister, Matt finds ties to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (a legally recognized church in the state). He comes in conflict with police Sergeant Furlong - who'd tried to date Matt's mom, but was rejected by her. Furlong pressures him hard to become a police informant.

Matt spots his sister, barefoot and dazed, just before she's abducted by two men. The police don't believe him. His girlfriend Laurel helps the search, and eventually his absent father arrives to join as well. They do rescue Jazz, but all are changed in the process. I recommend A Thousand Steps to anyone who lived through the sixties, or who appreciates a well plotted mystery and a strong coming of age.

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