Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

What happened to the hippies? (That is: Where did they go?)

That question seeded my newest novel, What’s Left. The book, to be candid, has grown into something much bigger, and I hope more relevant to more readers. It’s about what’s happened to Cassia, born a decade after the hippies faded into, well, wherever.

My earlier Hippie Trails novels sought to examine just who the everyday hippies were in the first place. I’ve wanted to supplant mass-media stereotypes with more realistic examples to illustrate how hippies came, and still come, in all varieties.

But more recently, revisiting the happy ending of my first published novel filled me with a desire to know what happened to my hippie-boy protagonist once he’d settled down in marriage. Yes, as an author, I knew he was my offspring, but we’d become, well, estranged. As I pondered the possibilities of advancing the story forward a half-century, I realized my interest was less in exploring his situation as a retired hippie today and more in the wider legacy of the movement itself. Enter his daughter, born a decade after the hippie flowering. For her, the questions become: What is family? Who was my father? Why aren’t we normal? What happened to my happy childhood? Who can you trust? What is my essential identity? Were hippies just a big joke? Where are we going (meaning herself, her brothers, and her close cousins)? Just how are we shaped by having a family-owned business and all the interactions that go with it?

As she starts telling her side of the events at age 11 and moving into her teens, her answers multiply. And when she returns, as an adult, a healing happens.

As for the hippies? She might say her Greek great-grandparents were the first, in their own way.


With so much to work with, something had to give. In my newest novel, this was one of them:

Something else strikes him. In most philosophical discourses he’s experienced, the room’s filled with smoke. But here, nobody’s puffing anything – not even tobacco.

Even stranger: most late-night sessions resembling this have occurred over beer or wine or Tennessee sippin’ whiskey. In this, the family kitchen, however, the only thing to drink at this hour is juice or tea – herbal tea, at that.


Maybe wee-hours discussions like that are primarily for youth. As I recall, we were looking largely to the future and how we’d love to change things. You get older, though, you begin looking back more – good times and bad. Assuming you can stay up that late!

Where would you say the hippies went? Are you one? Have you known any? Would you like to be one?


  1. My son would say we’re still here… I and his dad, our friends and community (those still alive) are now business owners, entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, professors, musicians, therapists, artists, gardeners, farmers, spiritual teachers/leaders and parents/grandparents/great-grandparents.

    And, sick to our cores about the state of today’s USA and world.

    We need another non-violent revolution, for sure. Where are our next Gandhi? Our MLK Jr.? Our next Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, Nelson Mandela, Lech Wałęsa, Pete Seeger?

    Best to you,


  2. In this country they eventually got absorbed into the rest of the population and increased their influence. How else can you explain that by the mid 1990s, 92% of the population was strongly anti nuclear and supported the banning of nuclear armed or powered ships from NZ. Today, as well as a Greens political party both the major parties have very influential environmental movements with similar outcomes in mind, although as yet, with different ideas of how to get there.

    Perhaps our relaxed attitudes to the institution of marriage, same sex marriage, gender identity, low religiosity, and high rate of nonreligious home schooling are indicators that we all have a bit of hippie in us.

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