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If Not the Whole Truth
In the new upcoming Claire Arbogast novel, a young woman struggles to ferret out her place in the counterculture of the late 1960s era only to find in 2022 America that everything she holds dear, even her own life, is in jeopardy.
Connie Borders sees the changes coming down in 1969 and refuses to let them pass her by. Rejecting her parents’ outdated lifestyle and the narrow, whitebread path prescribed for her, Connie leaves Indianapolis for California to stop the Vietnam War and reshape the country into the Woodstock Nation. Her course veers when Carlos, an older university student who is a first-generation, Black Puerto Rican American, persuades her that radical Chicago is where it’s at.
During a whirlwind of protests and an acid-laced rock concert, electricity runs between Connie and Carlos. But when she witnesses a shooting in the wake of Black Panther Fred Hampton’s murder, she is forced to leave Chicago. From the Midwest to Berkeley and back, Connie goes on a freewheeling search for her place in the fractured movement and its unexpected pressures to conform. She navigates the complexities of friendship and family, of unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion, and of cultural and political divides while untangling her desire for Carlos and his hardcore passion for Puerto Rican independence. Relying on inspiration from the writings of birth control advocate Margaret Sanger as a positive female revolutionary role model, Connie learns she must trust her instincts to seek out the whole story—which may not be the whole truth—as she defines who she is, what she thinks, and what happens to her body. Fifty years later, when Connie is a pro-choice activist in Chicago, her questioned convictions put her in grave danger.
Arbogast's book slices through the complex underpinnings of today’s fight for a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, making the topic accessible. In addition, If Not the Whole Truth is a new look at the 1960s era, both in its linear connection to today’s social unrest and the telling oft-overlooked history of the Young Lords of Chicago and their role in the push for Puerto Rican independence and the fight against gentrification, police brutality, and racism in Chicago.
We think life changes, but does it really? The core of this book illuminates how the basic struggle for power versus equity rolls over again and again. So caught up in the arrogance of each era and generation, we hardly notice that the tune to which we dance to is on repeat. Maybe with a different rhythm, or some reverb, but it’s the same. And if we don’t understand how each moment is tied to the past, tied to our basic flaws as humans, we have no possible hope of moving ahead.