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The Age of Amy: Channel '63

Review

The Age of Amy: Channel '63

The world author Bruce Edwards has created in his Age of Amy series is strange indeed --- mostly realistic but with touches of magic and odd twists. This remains true in the third book in the series, CHANNEL ’63, where our intrepid Amy, in the midst of trying to divorce herself from her family through legal emancipation, becomes enamored with a teenage boy who happens to live in 1963.

Ever since her family members got rich because of her father’s successful writing career, they have turned into people Amy barely recognizes. Moving from a modest city apartment to a large house in a rural community, they spend most of their time glued to the television or to video games.  Amy dyes a streak of her hair blue to signal her rebellion from their sad and mindless new lifestyle, but it doesn’t go far enough for her. So she begins the proceedings to become free from her parents and siblings forever. But, the judge warns that without the protection and resources of her family, Amy could end up in foster care, or worse --- alone on the streets.  

CHANNEL ’63…will probably appeal most to middle grade readers who appreciate a quirky tale.

While Amy works with the judge and the lawyer appointed to her, she spends her free time with her best friend, Hubert, at their favorite hang-out, Theme Farm. Theme Farm is an amusement park like no other.  It is run by Fritterz, or “freaky critters” --- mutant human-animal hybrids who have just recently gained civil rights and who work to promote peace, justice and equality as well as political literacy and environmentalism in the park’s visitors. With rides and attractions like “Flush Mountain” and “Puppet’s Court,” park-goers learn about important current issues and have fun at the same time.  When a brand new attraction called “Used-to-be TV” opens up, promising an actual glimpse of 1963, Amy is intrigued. When she meets a cute and sensitive boy named Clifford from 1963 she falls head over heels.  “Used-to-be TV” is equipped to beep out any information from the present that will alter the past, and so much of Amy and Clifford’s conversation is censored. However, when she comes into possession of a special clicker that will allow her to talk to him with no beeps, she has to decide what is most important; an open dialogue with Clifford or protecting history from any alterations. With Vietnam looming large for Clifford and the impending assassination of President Kennedy, Amy’s choices, like the one about whether or not to leave her family for good, are not at all easy.

CHANNEL ’63 is wacky little novel.   While Amy and her family don’t seem to share similar values, the idea of legal emancipation seems an extreme decision (and not one accurately explained). There is also an out-of-the-blue plot twist at the end that tries to connect to story of Amy’s relationship with Clifford to her relationship with her family, and it leaves the resolution feeling a bit disjointed. The very unbelievable aspects of the book, related to both plot and characters, can be brushed aside a bit as Edwards clearly has no interest in writing a work of realism. There are big ideas to be wrestled with here, even if they aren’t framed in particularly realistic ways or always carefully executed. CHANNEL ’63, which, in the end is really just the story of a frustrated girl looking for something exciting beyond her everyday life, will probably appeal most to middle grade readers who appreciate a quirky tale.  

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on November 21, 2014

The Age of Amy: Channel '63
by Bruce Edwards

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Lambert Hill
  • ISBN-10: 0983760446
  • ISBN-13: 9780983760443