THE FOURTEENTH OF SEPTEMBER
A Coming of Conscience Novel
On September 14, 1969, Private First Class Judy Talton celebrates her nineteenth birthday by secretly joining the campus anti-Vietnam War movement. In doing so, she jeopardizes both the army scholarship that will secure her future and her relationship with her military family. But Judy’s doubts have escalated with the travesties of the war. Who is she if she stays in the army? What is she if she leaves?
When the first date pulled in the Draft Lottery turns up as her birthday, she realizes that if she were a man, she’d have been Number One—off to Vietnam with an under-fire life expectancy of six seconds. The stakes become clear, propelling her toward a life-altering choice as fateful as that of any draftee.
The Fourteenth of September portrays a pivotal time at the peak of the Vietnam War through the rare perspective of a young woman, tracing her path of self-discovery and a “Coming of Conscience.” Judy’s story speaks to the poignant clash of young adulthood, early feminism, and war, offering an ageless inquiry into the domestic politics of protest when the world stops making sense.
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What Others Are Saying
“Rita Dragonette has written a strong-hearted and authentic novel about a naive young girl and her struggle to reconcile the dissonance between the world she sees and the world she was raised to believe in. Judy is truly a quiet hero; you won’t forget her.”
–– Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Two if By Sea
“Meet Judy Talton, college student during some of the worst moments of the late 1960s. Torn between duty to country and her antiwar friends, between family and making her own way, she embodies every conflict of that tumultuous era. A beautiful, tautly written novel, Judy will long echo in your memory.”
–– Peter Golden, author of Nothing Is Forgotten
“This debut novel deftly captures a generation on the cusp of an uncertain future. The characters choices are difficult, their solutions complex. At times charming and funny, at others intense and heartbreaking, Dragonette depicts a complicated chapter in our history with precision and depth, and renders it with compassion, understanding, and grace.”
–– Patricia Ann McNair, author of And These Are the Good Times
“This deeply felt novel took me back to the time when hopes of the future slammed up against the realities of war, and when the fate of young men was determined by a number in the Draft Lottery. It’s a re-immersion for some, for others a book to learn what all the fuss was about.”
–– Patrick T. Reardon, author of the poetry collection Requiem for David and seven other books.
“A compelling, original book and a great read. It’s at once transporting to an incredible moment in recent history and still distinctly modern, as a story of a young woman finding her independence, her voice and her place in the world-- an unpredictable, emotional and gripping ride through the end.”
–– Josh Lohrius, author of The Breaking of Goody Boothe
“Rita Dragonette’s novel reveals what I have known for a long while—that she is a writer of great talent and integrity who infuses this debut work with an energy and vision that lifts it far beyond the ordinary coming of age story. This is an important book, not to be missed.”
–– Gary D. Wilson, author of Getting Right and Sing, Ronnie Blue
“Dragonette transports readers to a college campus in 1969 when flunking out meant front lines. Judy’s journey represents the complexity of every generation’s timeless effort to align conscience with action. This debut novel, neither idealistic nor fatalistic, offers the unique perspective of a young woman facing her own private rebellion.”
–– Elizabeth Wheeler, author of The Asher Trilogy
“A brilliant depiction of how the urgency of political commitment complicates the self-absorption of adolescence. This is a novel for those who marvel at the profound decisions we were called upon to make so young, but also for a new generation facing the crucial questions of the turbulent world that will define them.”
–– Barbara Shoup, author of Looking for Jack Kerouac, An American Tune, Night Watch, Faithful Women, Wish You Were Here, Vermeer’s Daughter, Stranded in Harmony and Everything You Want
“This novel magnificently arcs the distance between the deeply personal and the global. It sharply depicts a seminal point in history, while tackling universal questions about how we measure the need to act versus personal cost. Dragonette has given us a work of recent historical fiction with profound relevance for today.”
–– Barbara Monier, author of You, In Your Green Shirt and A Little Birdie Told Me
“A compelling novel about the Vietnam era with a morbid similarity to events in today’s world. A coming-of-age story of students, their loves and fears, and the polarization of political thinking. A wonderful read for those who remember, as well as younger people who will identify with the unrest.”
–– Ellis Goodman, author of Corona: The Inside Story of American’s #1 Imported Beer, Bear Any Burden and The Keller Papers
“The struggles around integrity and the coming of age narrative of "Judy Blue Eyes," the protagonist in Dragonette's well-structured and versed story, though they represent that of a generation during the Vietnam era, are very relevant to what we face today.”
–– Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child