The Light Years
The Light Years is a joyous and defiant coming-of-age memoir set during one of the most turbulent times in American historyChris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.His older sister Donna introduces him to the charismatic Valentine, who places a tab of acid on twelve-year-old Rush's tongue, proclaiming: "This is sacrament. You are one of us now."After an unceremonious ejection from an experimental art school, Rush heads to Tuscon to make a major drug purchase and, still barely a teenager, disappears into the nascent American counterculture. Stitching together a ragged assemblage of lowlifes, prophets, and fellow wanderers, he seeks kinship in the communes of the west. His adolescence is spent looking for knowledge, for the divine, for home. Given what Rush confronts on his travels--from ordinary heartbreak to unimaginable violence--it is a miracle he is still alive.The Light Years is a prayer for vanished friends, an odyssey signposted with broken and extraordinary people. It transcends one boy's story to perfectly illustrate the slow slide from the optimism of the 1960s into the darker and more sinister 1970s. This is a riveting, heart-stopping journey of discovery and reconciliation, as Rush faces his lost childhood and, finally, himself.

The Light Years Details

TitleThe Light Years
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 2nd, 2019
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN-139780374294410
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, GLBT, Queer

The Light Years Review

  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    I read and reviewed this memoir for Lambda Literary, where my full review can be found.A fast-paced coming-of-age tale about growing up gay during the sixties and seventies, The Light Years recounts a tumultuous adolescence and muses about what it means it to find self-acceptance as a queer teen. The memoir centers on the author's fraught relationship with his feuding parents, but the bulk of it focuses on the time he spent away from affluent New England home as a teen. In vivid prose, Rush brin I read and reviewed this memoir for Lambda Literary, where my full review can be found.A fast-paced coming-of-age tale about growing up gay during the sixties and seventies, The Light Years recounts a tumultuous adolescence and muses about what it means it to find self-acceptance as a queer teen. The memoir centers on the author's fraught relationship with his feuding parents, but the bulk of it focuses on the time he spent away from affluent New England home as a teen. In vivid prose, Rush brings to life a series of disorienting experiences: clandestine affairs at boarding schools, poorly planned cross-country trips, drug dealing in California, journeys about the Sonoran desert. The author's incisive humor livens up his bleak narrative, and he captures the eccentricities and quirks of the many people he encountered as a teen, whether or not he liked them. Rush's written an expansive life story, full of brilliant observations, and it’s hard to believe that this is only his first book.
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  • Shannon A
    January 1, 1970
    Thinking I would just read the first few pages while waiting for the bus, I knew I had gone down the rabbit hole when I finished nearly fifteen pages in less than an hour and nearly missed my stop for home.A journey of wild times, unbelievable twists & turns, hitchhiking, drugs, near-death experiences and self-discovery that is hypnotic & full of emotion. Told at near lightning pace, every page will leave you in some form of suspense; daring you to read the next page, while leaving you i Thinking I would just read the first few pages while waiting for the bus, I knew I had gone down the rabbit hole when I finished nearly fifteen pages in less than an hour and nearly missed my stop for home.A journey of wild times, unbelievable twists & turns, hitchhiking, drugs, near-death experiences and self-discovery that is hypnotic & full of emotion. Told at near lightning pace, every page will leave you in some form of suspense; daring you to read the next page, while leaving you in a state of wonder of how Chris managed to live to tell the tale that lead him home.
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  • Karen Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.Wow, it's amazing the author is still alive to tell his incredible story. Well written, very interesting. Must read. Warning: adult si I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.Wow, it's amazing the author is still alive to tell his incredible story. Well written, very interesting. Must read. Warning: adult situations, extreme drug use and really broken people.5 stars
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    Every now and then a memoir appears that makes anyone who has experienced parenthood wonder What the Hell? How did this person survive, and how could parents allow their child to disappear into the unknown? The events in Chris Rush's personal history take place almost 50 years ago, and given the bifurcated nature of the home he grew up in, one can only wonder at his resilience in becoming the respected, honored artist he has evolved into. Chris is the middle child of seven of a successful contra Every now and then a memoir appears that makes anyone who has experienced parenthood wonder What the Hell? How did this person survive, and how could parents allow their child to disappear into the unknown? The events in Chris Rush's personal history take place almost 50 years ago, and given the bifurcated nature of the home he grew up in, one can only wonder at his resilience in becoming the respected, honored artist he has evolved into. Chris is the middle child of seven of a successful contractor and his complicated wife whose fiercely Catholic lives include raucous parties attended by members of the diocese of Trenton. The father's work mostly involves construction of churches, but it is his alcoholism that drives the family. Each of the seven goes in a wayward direction, seemingly without any reaction from the parents.But this is Chris's story, and his life of deeper and deeper involvement into the drug culture of the seventies, his being cast adrift while still in his teens and while he is coming to grips with his own sexuality, tells more about his character than that of those loathsome parents. He actually professes love for those two, and more understanding and acceptance than they are possibly entitled to. As he says toward the end Life Shapes a Face, makes it what it is. It is worthwhile to take a peek at his website and see the beautifully unsettling examples of the art he has created.
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  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    ***An early edition of this book was given to me for review. I'd like to thank the author and publishing company for this opportunity. All opinions, however, are my own.*** Typically, I'd write my own back-cover-type synopsis here, but I think the one on this book's page does it well enough alone. The bulk of the synopsis is below:Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the th ***An early edition of this book was given to me for review. I'd like to thank the author and publishing company for this opportunity. All opinions, however, are my own.*** Typically, I'd write my own back-cover-type synopsis here, but I think the one on this book's page does it well enough alone. The bulk of the synopsis is below:Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.His older sister Donna introduces him to the charismatic Valentine, who places a tab of acid on twelve-year-old Rush's tongue, proclaiming: "This is sacrament. You are one of us now."After an unceremonious ejection from an experimental art school, Rush heads to Tuscon to make a major drug purchase and, still barely a teenager, disappears into the nascent American counterculture. Stitching together a ragged assemblage of lowlifes, prophets, and fellow wanderers, he seeks kinship in the communes of the west. His adolescence is spent looking for knowledge, for the divine, for home. Given what Rush confronts on his travels--from ordinary heartbreak to unimaginable violence--it is a miracle he is still alive.I'm shocked to learn that this is a debut novel. I'm even more shocked to learn that the author decided to debut with a memoir of all things. Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone chooses to tell it before people know their name. Memoirs are not typically what I reach for, but for some reason I always love the ones I pick up anyway, no matter how dry they seem. That being said, this book was not dry for a second. Rush's trials and experiences were so vivid and eccentric that I sometimes found myself doubting the truth within the pages. However, it is important to remember that what actually happened and what someone perceives to have happened are equally true, and this book, I think, is a beautiful example of this. This book will cause you to examine and reexamine every scene, and try to put yourselves in the shoes of someone with experiences that seem out of this world in today's standards. It is difficult to rate this book because it makes me feel like I'm putting a rating on Rush's life. His emotions and experiences are valid, and ratings have no place there. Instead my rating is solely on how these experiences are conveyed. Rush penned a page-turner. He built tension and manipulated his story so expertly. The only reason a star was taken away, was purely my fault. A lot of the experiences aware lost on me, simply because I don't think I'm the target audience for this novel. There is heavy drug usage throughout the novel. Rush does a pretty good job of explaining what this all fells like for people who have no idea, but there were simply moments that I couldn't fathom, and I save 5 stars for all-time favorite books of mine. This is still a very solid read, and likely a five-star book for you. I recommend you try it!
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  • Bert
    January 1, 1970
    I loved every moment reading this extraordinary book about an extraordinary life, and I raced through it grateful that Mr Rush was still alive alive to tell his story. It is a profound, and profoundly sad, memoir but one full of love and the search for love. My favourite read of 2019 so far.
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  • Cassie (book__gal)
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve really gotten on board the memoir train this past month and The Light Years sealed the deal for me - I’m officially a fan of memoirs now! I used to never read them. This particular memoir is written by artist Chris Rush, who came of age in the 1960s/1970s, leaving his Catholic, privileged upbringing in New Jersey to submerge himself in the counterculture of hippies, experimentation, LSD, and the American West. This is a person with some truly wild experiences. The heart of Rush’s story, how I’ve really gotten on board the memoir train this past month and The Light Years sealed the deal for me - I’m officially a fan of memoirs now! I used to never read them. This particular memoir is written by artist Chris Rush, who came of age in the 1960s/1970s, leaving his Catholic, privileged upbringing in New Jersey to submerge himself in the counterculture of hippies, experimentation, LSD, and the American West. This is a person with some truly wild experiences. The heart of Rush’s story, however, is his desire to belong, to feel accepted by the people he loves, as he reckons with his sexuality. ⁣⁣⁣⁣Despite the fact that Rush experiences adversity, drugs, and the outdoors in ways that many of us never will, he writes so elegantly about universal truths concerning familial strife, loneliness, heartbreak, longing. My heart broke for Chris a million times over and I couldn’t put the book down because I couldn’t take not knowing if he would be okay or not. ⁣⁣⁣⁣I think what really made me feel so endeared to this book was the theme of searching for belonging. It’s a journey we can all relate to, and Rush’s journey to find a sense of belonging demonstrates that it’s not just in a physical sense that we search for it...it’s found in God, drugs, knowledge, art, other people. And sometimes that can be a good thing, and sometimes it can be a bad thing. I think this will end up being a favorite read of 2019 for me. Thank you FSG for sending this my way - it will be out April 2nd! ⁣
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  • Lauren Archer
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Strauss and Giroux for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book. This is the memoir of the artist Chris Rush that starts at age 11 and takes him through his young adult years. This covers the gamet of topic, sexuality, religion and drugs. As I read this book I ran through many emotions. Lots of laughter and many thoughtful moments throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. It might have been the book that got me out of my rut.
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  • sylvie
    January 1, 1970
    Love, loved it.
  • Jessica Bumgardner
    January 1, 1970
    **I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway**I devoured this book. On the back cover of the book is a review from Nick Flynn that says, "Brace yourself: to enter The Light Years you must be willing to be changed." I was absolutely not prepared to begin this journey. To start off with, I am sad to say, I had never heard of Chris Rush. I didn't read too much about what would be in this memoir and I was not expecting an emotional journey. Not only was the story intriguing, the writing just sucked me **I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway**I devoured this book. On the back cover of the book is a review from Nick Flynn that says, "Brace yourself: to enter The Light Years you must be willing to be changed." I was absolutely not prepared to begin this journey. To start off with, I am sad to say, I had never heard of Chris Rush. I didn't read too much about what would be in this memoir and I was not expecting an emotional journey. Not only was the story intriguing, the writing just sucked me right in. As an adolescent in the 1960's and 1970's Chris to me just seems lost. He's searching for who he is as a person, as well as for someone to just love him. He finds himself in unexpected places and people. I don't want to give too much away so I don't spoil this book for anyone else but it's definitely a must read. Chris Rush brought the story to life for me. I felt like I was there with him. I felt the pain and the longing and the love. My only issue is that I feel like it ended too soon. I want more. I want to know what happened next.
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    The Light Years is an engaging memoir about the author's life. He spent his teen years in the 70's taking and dealing drugs. Some crazy things happened to him. He survived an overdose, he lived off the grid in Arizona in the mountains, eventually he rejoined society and went on to live a successful life. He got lucky because so many just like him did not make it. It's a fascinating read. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Csimplot Simplot
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book!!!
  • Madeleine
    January 1, 1970
    This book is absolutely incredible. It's hard to describe. Just read it. Definitely in my top five.
  • Furiously Reading
    January 1, 1970
    I had zero expectations going into The Light Years, I barely remembered reading the synopsis. Something about drugs and Tucson was all I could recall. So I decided to just start reading and let the book do all the work. To say I read this memoir at a feverish pace is an understatement. I read late at night and in the early hours of the morning. I even read at work whenever I had a down moment. I had to be with Chris and hear his story. His writing is crystalline and intense, but also simple, dev I had zero expectations going into The Light Years, I barely remembered reading the synopsis. Something about drugs and Tucson was all I could recall. So I decided to just start reading and let the book do all the work. To say I read this memoir at a feverish pace is an understatement. I read late at night and in the early hours of the morning. I even read at work whenever I had a down moment. I had to be with Chris and hear his story. His writing is crystalline and intense, but also simple, devoid of all the extra fluff that usually fills memoirs. I felt as if Chris was speaking directly to me. Piece by piece, he’s looking me in the eyes and telling me his story. Chris Rush, born to an affluent and influential family in New Jersey, is our child guide. This book follows his life from eleven to nineteen years old. His deeply Catholic family is the epitome of 1960s Mad Men style living. The booze flow as easy as the money. His mother is the hostess with the mostest and ignores her children to shop and fill already bursting closets. Though she is aloof and sometimes cruel with her words I feel as if this memoir is for his mother, she is somehow a central character although absent for most of his early life.“When I asked her what was wrong, she sighed. ‘I have a head cold with none of the symptoms.’ She didn’t smile-”His father constantly works and remains an aloof character showing his rotten core when he drinks and at one point threatens Chris with a gun and knife. Chris is unaware of his father’s history at the time. Understanding only comes later.Chris first drops acid at twelve years old, a sacrament placed on his tongue by a sort of drug dealing priest. He bounces around different boarding schools, dealing drugs and eventually getting kicked out because he’s caught kissing a boy in the woods. He tries to go home many times, but his parent’s house is hostile, full of past anger and resentment. I’m suffocating while reading about his life at home in New Jersey and then I’m seeing the world in techno-color when Chris is high out of his mind (which he is for most of this book) out in the deserts of Arizona. One particular scene, his sister Donna is giving birth surrounded by drug dealing cowboys, naked and raw with the power of giving life. “The child, untethered, joins the human race.”This scene is so transformative I wonder if it’s the most perfect piece of writing I’ve encountered in all my years of reading. The cast of characters is too long to go through, you’ll have to read on your own. Owen and The Lieutenant, UFOlogist Gabriel Green and nudist Flow Bear are just the tip of the iceberg. I received this ARC from NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and GirouxLike this review follow me on Instagram @furiouslyreading
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  • Elle Rudy
    January 1, 1970
    I knew I liked Chris Rush from the first chapter. We're introduced to him as a child who appears to be more certain of who he is than most adults I've met. As Rush recounts his childhood into adolescence and then young adulthood, the environment around him, people he encounters, the era he lives in, all attempt to forge him into a different person. His resilience is just amazing to me. After living what feels like several lifetimes worth in a decade, I'm left completely in awe.The highs and lows I knew I liked Chris Rush from the first chapter. We're introduced to him as a child who appears to be more certain of who he is than most adults I've met. As Rush recounts his childhood into adolescence and then young adulthood, the environment around him, people he encounters, the era he lives in, all attempt to forge him into a different person. His resilience is just amazing to me. After living what feels like several lifetimes worth in a decade, I'm left completely in awe.The highs and lows reading of this memoir mimic the drug-fueled jaunts of the author. He delivers his testaments with a measured amount of nonchalance, as if they were typical childhood milestones. Though he recalls layered enthusiasm for these substances at the time, with the benefit of hindsight we get to really see the absurdity of the predicaments he found himself in due to drug use. It's euphoric, but devastating. And with a lot of stories of people with fucked up childhoods, there's the adults that failed them. Usually repeatedly, immensely and often. Even though he was able to thrive well enough to write a book in the end, it was not an easy or necessary journey. Honestly, I don't know how he survived. And many in similar positions don't. It feels unfair and despite getting many good stories out of it, it's a gut-punch to think about. One of the most astounding things is that Rush doesn't seem angry much at all, at any point. Maybe he's worked through these feelings or he just doesn't have the rage that others might. I don't think I'd have the same temperament if I had undergone a fraction of what he did.I loved this memoir. It's melancholic and profound and I highly recommend it!*Thanks to Goodreads, Netgalley & Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an advance copy!
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  • Jake
    January 1, 1970
    This is the memoir of an artist's crazy childhood in the heyday of the hippy era. Each chapter was an almost unbelievable adventure. The guy had LSD before alcohol, lived alone on a mountain, hitchhiked and was assaulted, fell under the spell of a UFO guru, and on and on. The story was interesting and it had some moments that felt authentic, but most of it just felt like "then this crazy thing happened to me." There is a bit of redemption at the end but it was very short, almost like an after-no This is the memoir of an artist's crazy childhood in the heyday of the hippy era. Each chapter was an almost unbelievable adventure. The guy had LSD before alcohol, lived alone on a mountain, hitchhiked and was assaulted, fell under the spell of a UFO guru, and on and on. The story was interesting and it had some moments that felt authentic, but most of it just felt like "then this crazy thing happened to me." There is a bit of redemption at the end but it was very short, almost like an after-note. For a first time writer, it's pretty solid. The hijinks just got a little old. Thank you to goodreads for the free copy.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Just a wild memoir. Rush, a well respected artist and designer, tell the story of his teenage years which essentially consisted of taking and dealing drugs. His odyssey across the US and his stay in the mountains in Tucson, living off the land , while stoned or tripping on LSD, makes for fascinating reading. And it appears that the rest of the kids in his family, and especially his sister Donna, were stoned or tripping during the seventies as well. I am the same age as Rush, and lived through th Just a wild memoir. Rush, a well respected artist and designer, tell the story of his teenage years which essentially consisted of taking and dealing drugs. His odyssey across the US and his stay in the mountains in Tucson, living off the land , while stoned or tripping on LSD, makes for fascinating reading. And it appears that the rest of the kids in his family, and especially his sister Donna, were stoned or tripping during the seventies as well. I am the same age as Rush, and lived through the same times, how he came out the other side of a drug filled youth is fascinating reading. Highly recommended.
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  • Maureen Stanton
    January 1, 1970
    Heart wrenching story of a gay teenager in 1970s whose parents were too homophobic and self-involved to accept him, and instead let him wander in the wilderness--literally and figurally--for years. I wish Rush had written more about how he turned his life around after nearly killing himself with drugs (not by suicide attempts, but slow steady annihilation of his body--which, of course, a different kind of suicide). In spite of fits and starts at the beginning of the book (a lot of short anecdota Heart wrenching story of a gay teenager in 1970s whose parents were too homophobic and self-involved to accept him, and instead let him wander in the wilderness--literally and figurally--for years. I wish Rush had written more about how he turned his life around after nearly killing himself with drugs (not by suicide attempts, but slow steady annihilation of his body--which, of course, a different kind of suicide). In spite of fits and starts at the beginning of the book (a lot of short anecdotal material that makes for choppy reading), Rush hits his stride midway and writes a gripping and luminous account that propelled me back to those "bad old days" of the 1970s drug culture.
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  • Elena
    January 1, 1970
    HOLY MOLY. Chris Rush must have several guardian angels (and guardian aliens) looking over him. A staggering & lucid recollection of one heck of an adolescence spent under the influence of everything under the sun. Vivid, introspective, trippy, fantastic.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Great read
  • Jenni
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars
  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    reminds me that sometimes shedding your skin can be good, but sometimes the routines keep us alive.
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    January 1, 1970
    A coming of age that gripped me from the first pages.A young life full of drugs hard memories seeking to find himself.A raw revealing life story that the author lived and fought to survive.Thanks to Goodreads for advance copy,
  • Ryan Christopher Coleman
    January 1, 1970
    i loved this book. i cant believe chris rush had never written anything before this. the prose is rich, the pace is clipped, the story is thrilling, and rush’s voice is absolutely magnetic. fun and funny, rush has mastered a kind of camp phrasal styling i’ve encountered in books written by people like eve babitz and david sedaris. i think where you pick up on it is detail selection. which details rush selects to represent a given story and how much importance he gives to them. for instance, when i loved this book. i cant believe chris rush had never written anything before this. the prose is rich, the pace is clipped, the story is thrilling, and rush’s voice is absolutely magnetic. fun and funny, rush has mastered a kind of camp phrasal styling i’ve encountered in books written by people like eve babitz and david sedaris. i think where you pick up on it is detail selection. which details rush selects to represent a given story and how much importance he gives to them. for instance, when discussing dealing heroin, cocaine, and LSD out of his homophobic parents’ suburban basement, he doesn’t focus on his own declining health / sanity or the dangers posed by the whole ordeal, but the significance of his drapery. i absolutely LOVE voices like rush’s. like life, they let you have fun in the midst of completely serious situations, and reverse, dredge up the horror out of the ordinary.i never read memoirs but i’m glad i read this one! usually i get so bored with the structure. 16 follows 15 follows 14. predictability. but rush’s story reads like the young adult thrillers and road books i used to devour when i was younger. some chapters are as long as a page, and some periods in his life, if only lasting days he spins out for tens of pages. the structure is comfortingly elastic, and the story feels lived in.
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  • Jane Brewer
    January 1, 1970
    4.5*What an amazing story. I won this ARC book from a Goodreads Giveaway, and I'm glad I did. This is the totally unbelievable story of Chris Rush, artist and author. He tells the story of his youth during the 60's and 70's; it is riddled with drugs, adventure, danger, and ultimately resurrection. Chris is the middle child of seven kids born to a fairly affluent New Jersey couple. But nothing is easy for Chris. He's gay, and his parents, knowing he's "different", send him away to boarding school 4.5*What an amazing story. I won this ARC book from a Goodreads Giveaway, and I'm glad I did. This is the totally unbelievable story of Chris Rush, artist and author. He tells the story of his youth during the 60's and 70's; it is riddled with drugs, adventure, danger, and ultimately resurrection. Chris is the middle child of seven kids born to a fairly affluent New Jersey couple. But nothing is easy for Chris. He's gay, and his parents, knowing he's "different", send him away to boarding school. His father is drunk, his mother is flighty, and neither one is a good parent to him. It is during his time away at school that his drug habit really explodes. Life from there goes downhill. This memoir is brutally honest, and Rush really exposes himself with his writing. In some ways, it reminds me of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, only hopefully with more truth.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    OMG! Right from the beginning this book sucked me in and I had a hard time putting it down. I ran through all my emotions reading this hellish adventure his life has been. Misunderstood, abused and forgotten he still survived and brings you along on his journey. The strength he has shown to survive is remarkable and is a excellent read.
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  • Luke B.
    January 1, 1970
    I was fortunate to meet and profile Chris Rush after reading his debut masterpiece. He’s as good in person as in his miraculous memoir. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/59...
  • Aaron West
    January 1, 1970
    The Light Years by Chris Rush is brutal, beautiful, and reflective.In his memoir, Chris Rush—a decorated artist—describes the ins and outs, ups and downs, of his turbulent life from adolescence to young adulthood. In the pages of this very personal and very profound written experience, Rush tells the story of his coming of age in the volatile times of the 60s and 70s. Raised in a Catholic, well-to-do family in an affluent Trenton suburb, Rush found himself in a family that had it all right on th The Light Years by Chris Rush is brutal, beautiful, and reflective.In his memoir, Chris Rush—a decorated artist—describes the ins and outs, ups and downs, of his turbulent life from adolescence to young adulthood. In the pages of this very personal and very profound written experience, Rush tells the story of his coming of age in the volatile times of the 60s and 70s. Raised in a Catholic, well-to-do family in an affluent Trenton suburb, Rush found himself in a family that had it all right on the outside yet was fracturing beneath the surface. From Catholic school to his extensive experience with drug use, to the many people who walked in and out of his life, to his endless years in the wilderness, to his tumultuous relationship with his parents—especially his relationship with his father, who referred to him often as "the queer," this book will make you feel deeply. Its impact is indelible to me. There were times in the story that made me cringe, made me want to weep. There were times within the half-week that I read this that I wanted to hug Chris Rush—then and now. There were times that made me question the meaning of family and the traumas and triumphs that affect and shape each of us within our own. His story wowed me, dropped my jaw, and gave me an inside look into an experience that had me helplessly questioning the reality he lived through and the impact it had on him: it made me appreciate the miracle of his survival in order to tell it. It made me reflect on that time in this country, so tortured and unsure. It made me think of my own place within a world in which these things have happened; a world where these people still are today. I wavered on three to four stars for a while, and by the end of the book, I safely came to the conclusion of four. This memoir is not for the faint of heart—but I believe it is a story worth reading.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    How do you rate a book that is so intense and so thought-provoking and memory-inducing? Do you give it 4 or 5 stars, which indicate you really really liked or enjoyed it? Or do you give it two stars because you really did not like it? Or three because it was ok? This book falls into none of these categories. Instead it draws you in and terrifies you and makes you laugh and causes you to reflect on all of the many "what-ifs" and "there but for the grace of gods" that have occurred in your life. T How do you rate a book that is so intense and so thought-provoking and memory-inducing? Do you give it 4 or 5 stars, which indicate you really really liked or enjoyed it? Or do you give it two stars because you really did not like it? Or three because it was ok? This book falls into none of these categories. Instead it draws you in and terrifies you and makes you laugh and causes you to reflect on all of the many "what-ifs" and "there but for the grace of gods" that have occurred in your life. This book is well-written. No matter how terrifying it gets at times, you cannot put it down. It causes you to laugh and gasp with terror. It causes you to give thanks that you had the life experiences you had and not some of the ones Mr. Rush had. It makes you realize that you really have lived through some horrendous times. But you lived through them and can now look back and say "Wow!"How was I so lucky to miss the experiences of Mr. Rush? Or for that matter, how did I live through the late 60's/70's? I have read The Girls by Emma Cline and 1968 by Mark Kurlansky and now this book. Thank goodness I had parents who knew how to be parents and were also loving and supportive. I had friends who did not feel the urge to fall in with the latest fads or trends. I had teachers and professors who really cared about my studies and potential. And I met a man who has been the grounding force of my life as well as the love of my life for more than 40 years. Read it if you will - and be prepared for an intense but ultimately good story.
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The Light YearsAuthor: Chris RushPublisher: Farrar, Straus and GirouxPublication Date: April 2, 2019Review Date: December 23, 2018I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, after approval from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in exchange for an honest review.This was an extraordinary memoir written about a man’s adolescent and young adult years during the late 60’s and early 70’s. He was initiated into the world of hallucinogenic drugs at a young age, and spent his teens and youn Book Review: The Light YearsAuthor: Chris RushPublisher: Farrar, Straus and GirouxPublication Date: April 2, 2019Review Date: December 23, 2018I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, after approval from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in exchange for an honest review.This was an extraordinary memoir written about a man’s adolescent and young adult years during the late 60’s and early 70’s. He was initiated into the world of hallucinogenic drugs at a young age, and spent his teens and young adult years as a drug addict and dealer. He grew up in a prosperous, heavily Roman Catholic family that was highly dysfunctional. His mother was totally emotionally disconnected and his father actively hated him. He eventually hit his rock bottom, after swallowing a rock of cocaine and coming very close to dying. It took him months to heal from that ordeal, and he was finished with taking drugs after that.He spent most of his time as a solitary wanderer in the mountains of Arizona, and lived far, far from the normal constraints of society at large.After his overdose and healing, he decided to come back to participate in society, and went on to become a famed and successful visual artist.This was his first book, and was exceptionally well written. His language and imagery were stunning. I was immersed in Chris’s story and read it non-stop. I was relieved to learn that he finally set himself free from the destructiveness of the drug culture and went on to make a fulfilling life for himself.This book was extremely well-written and edited. I highly highly recommend it! 5+ stars. I hope that he might try his hand at fiction at some point. Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for your auto-approval. All the best books are published by you.I am posting this review on NetGalley at the end of December, but will wait until closer to publication date to post the review on Amazon and Goodreads.#TheLightYears #NetGalley #FarrarStrausandGiroux
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