If you were a teenage boy in the valley in the 70’s, a lot of J.G. Bryan’s latest book will sound familiar.
Wildly fun and equally fraught with truth, Ventura & Winnetka follows the adventures of Douglas Efron and his friends as they come of age in the Valley.
As seniors in high school, the gang spends their final years before college practicing crazy car stunts, getting high, obsessing about girls, passionately listening to the great rock and roll of the ‘60s and 70’s, arguing about the Dodgers and the Lakers and partying at the prom in powder blue tuxedos.
Ventura & Winnetka is a funny, poignant look at the relationships of teenagers on the verge of adulthood. The recreation of the Valley culture of the late 70’s is palpable and magical.
The Valley boys also begin to spread their wings as they explore “over the hill,” from a West Hollywood porn theater to a punk rock club in Chinatown to the site of the Manson murders.
The novel’s busy plot doesn’t so much surprise with twists as comfort with relatable elements. There’s Douglas’ gig with the school newspaper, his awkwardness around first love, and multiple minor capers.
These adolescent adventures include a ragtag football game called the Turkey Bowl, desperate attempts to secure face ID’s to see an x-rated movie, and experimentation with drugs and alcohol.
Bryan writes with enthusiasm and economy in a voice appropriate to his teen protagonist. Winnetka & Ventura follows the story from his first novel, Ventura & Zelzah.
The books are available on Amazon and santamonicapress.com.