Ventura and Zelzah

Ventura and Zelzah
J.G. Bryan
February 2022
Young Adult Fiction / Coming of Age
5.5 x 8.5
Trade Paper

"In J.G. Bryan's Ventura and Zelzah the social world of 1975 is evolving. A rising California culture provides the voice and look and ethics for young Americans. For these rising teens this new and dynamic culture is a backdrop for who they might become."—Jack Gantos, Newberry Medal Award-winning author of Dead End in Norvelt

"Ventura and Zelzah is a vivid portrayal of the iconic San Fernando Valley of the 1970s. Having grown up in the Valley, I delighted at the realistic details on every page, but the novel also captures the universal journey of a boy moving toward manhood, no matter the time and place."—Grant Farley, author of Bones of a Saint, a Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction Youth Book

In the haze of a hot San Fernando Valley summer in 1970’s Los Angeles, Douglas and his friends―Hank, Weddy, and Ronnie―struggle with their awkward teenage years during a confusing and extremely permissive era. Weed and alcohol are regularly available, and most of the boys freely partake as they each navigate their own family dramas at home. Meanwhile, Douglas must also sort through the ups-and-downs of his relationship with his not-quite-girlfriend, Natalia.

When not in the swimming pool trying to beat the intense Valley heat, Douglas and his friends spend their summer vacation taking the RTD into Westwood to see Jaws, watching the Fourth of July fireworks at Balboa Park, seeking thrills at Magic Mountain, checking out the head shop and the turquoise jewelry at The Sixth Chakra, eating hot dogs and facing Koufax in the batting cage at Flooky’s, and playing plenty of basketball.

Ventura and Zelzah is a funny, poignant, and nostalgic coming-of-age tale of teenage friendships in a blissfully unhurried, pre-digital era.

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