"Laskin's narrative captures it all--the fervor, the drugs, the sex, the politics, the magic, the tragedy of the 60s and 70s and most of all the angst of that wonderful, terrible time. A fun, transporting, and evocative read." --Daniel James Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat
A turbulent coming-of-age novel about a young man who loses his innocence and finds his soul in the ferment of New York City in 1970
On the brink of a new decade, as the radical 1960s turns to the 1970s, seventeen-year-old Sam Stein is about to grow up in a hurry. Raised in a cushy Long Island suburb where his parents consign him to the care of Tutu Carter, their live-in housekeeper, Sam is learning uncomfortable truths about his place and privilege in his relationship with Tutu and in the world. When he stumbles into a New Year's party and meets firebrand Kim Goodman, his life is changed forever. In short order, he falls in love and flees with her to the drug-soaked East Village of Manhattan, and gets swept up in the revolutionary political movements of the time.
An aspiring writer, Sam bears witness to the seismic upheavals of the day while remaining utterly blind to a high-stakes plot that Kim and her comrades are executing right under his nose. As seemingly unrelated events click into place, what Sammy knew and what Sammy didn't know become matters of life and death - not only for himself and Kim, but for Tutu and her grandson Leon in Harlem, and for the radical protest movement teetering between disillusion and revolution. Compulsively readable, peopled by unforgettable characters, crackling with wit and suspense, What Sammy Knew brilliantly evokes a chaotic, dangerously polarized, and historically important moment in America.
About the Author
David Laskin is the author of The Children’s Blizzard, which won the Washington State Book Award and Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award for nonfiction. The author of several other works of nonfiction, Laskin writes for the New York Times and the Washington Post. He and his wife, the parents of three grown daughters, live in Seattle.
“Engaging…hugely accomplished first novel…There is a great deal to admire in this foray into fiction. With wit, acuity and tenderness, Laskin paints a vivid portrait of a young man coming of age…timely and engrossing.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A vivid portrait of adolescence and New York City in the 1970s." —Seattle Times
"Fresh and entertaining...it races to the finish as a compelling read well worth your time...A sweet novel that holds our interest to the last page." —New York Journal of Books "... an aching story about loss of innocence...Laskin adroitly integrates heartache, rock 'n' roll and violence, and references to the pumping songs of the era, to kick this one up a notch." —Shelf Awareness
“A big-heartednovel, full of empathy and compassion and hope, that does what all important stories aspire to do: leverage the power of story-telling to change the world.” —Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“David Laskin enlivens the compelling urgency and confusion of the 1960s and 70s in Samuel Stein, a smart young man coming of age on Long Island, who turns his back on his family in pursuit of love, only to find that love resides in humility, and often much closer to home than we realize.” —Robin Oliveira, New York Times bestselling author of Winter Sisters
“A powerfulcoming-of-age novel that’s shockinglycontemporaryand undeniably relevant. Both brilliantly complex and relentlessly page-turning, devastating and tender.” —Deb Caletti, National Book Award Nominee author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
“An engrossing, timely, beautifully written book, What Sammy Knew reveals the perils of coming-of-age in a country fraught with instability, inequality, distrust, and strife.” —Julie Barton, New York Times bestselling author of Dog Medicine
“Irresistible. The story begins with teenage lust and humor but swiftly turns to idealism and recklessness en route to its exciting climax.” —Jim Lynch, bestselling author of The Highest Tide