This emotional novel set in an upstate New York commune follows the lives of the “Free People” as seen through the eyes of Ridley Sorrel Stone, aka Little Bit, aka Bit. Bit is born sometime in the 1970’s while the Free People are in a caravan looking for the place that they could call their own. It is through Bit that we are introduced to the cast of characters that make up Arcadia, from Handy the charismatic leader; to Abe his carpenter father; to Hannah his strong and manic depressive mother; to Helle, Handy’s deeply troubled daughter. The story follows the rise and eventual fall of Arcadia and the struggles of its inhabitants to make their way in the outside world.
With two references to Meville’s Bartleby the Scrivener (one of my personal favorites) and plenty of period details that thankfully avoid the cloying use of tie-dye, this novel is both poignant and joyful as Groff explores the meaning of hope, family, and personal identity. I highly recommend this book and it can be found in the library’s bestsellers. Check it out!