“It was, he thought, a blessing to have lived out his life in a place that spun slowly like that yellow leaf, an eddy in the American rapids, a place that was shrinking when most of the country was growing, growing, ever-growing,” ~ Bill McKibben
Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben
Published by Blue Rider Press, 2017
Genre: Fiction, satire
Rating: Pete: 4 out of 5 Indi: 5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: We would definitely revisit this one, maybe when the political climate is a bit different
A spoiler-free review
Vern is on a mission to rally Vermont to secede from the United States. All he’s got is a podcast, a hideout, and a few trusted accomplices. But together, they start a movement in the Green Mountain State.
Indi: I knew this one was supposed to be funny, or maybe cheeky is a better term. But it’s more than that. It’s satirical genius because of how many “sides” it covers and covers well.
Pete: Absolutely. Though McKibben often sets the protagonist, Vern, up to take down opposing arguments, they’re never straw-man arguments. Vern’s opponents make good points, points that I’m sure many people agree with. And even though I didn’t agree with Vern all of the time, his logic made sense. And it was often funny and very Vermont-like.
Indi: Exactly. I feel like no matter what your political views are, the book is still enjoyable. There were also a ton of Vermont facts and in-jokes that surprised me. Like how the people of Vermont didn’t even decide to become a state until 1791. Or how they’d (partially) banned slavery well before they’d even become a state, in 1777. It seems like they were founded on this intense sense of freedom.
Pete: Yeah, this book was unabashedly an advertisement for the state from a longtime resident. I’ve always said it’s my favorite state, and this book reaffirmed that belief. Besides feeling like an extremely “Vermont” book, it was also just a fun and consistently entertaining read.
Indi: I also thought McKibben did a really great job weaving in these realistic characters into an otherwise unbelievable plot. Even when Vern is running from the authorities and going on all these crazy adventures, it’s all believable in a way because Vern feels like such a steady character. I highly recommend this one for anyone who lives in America right now, especially those who live in Vermont or close to it.