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Set as a frame story of Jonas visiting where he grew up in Passot, California, we learn of Josan Duncan and his life in 1969. When his father (in the Marines) gets stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam war, Jonas is placed with his Aunt Hester. Aunt Hester has been blinded by American propaganda about the War in Vietnam, and believes the "flower children" of the 1960s to be unruly and immature. Unwilling to take Hester's advice, Jonas begins hanging out in town and falls in love with the hippie Auleen Delange. Through Auleen, Jonas is introduced to communal life. As he is about to start his education at Berkely, Jonas learns his dad is missing in action in Vietnam and joins the Marines. Jonas, therefore, has a stronger commitment to his father than to his newly acquired love of peace. Jonas ends up fighting in Vietnam as well, but lives to come back and reminisce about his story years later.
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