Phil Fragasso

NO HARD FEELINGS  (a young adult novel) tells the story of Marie DeAngelis, a high school junior, and her relationship with Jimi, a self-styled political activist. When they meet at a protest rally, they’re immediately drawn to each other – Marie because she’s captivated by the passion of the sixties; and Jimi because he sees Marie as a means to inspire a new generation. Together they initiate a student-run antiwar organization – which fails miserably due to student apathy. Marie is disappointed, but Jimi sees it as one more sign that the world is never going to change. With Marie’s cooperation, Jimi conjures up a scheme to capture the attention of America and demonstrate the horrors of war.  Unbeknown to Marie, however, Jimi’s plan includes a cruel twist that could threaten her life.

Novelist & nonfiction author

Read an Excerpt...

Time played a dirty trick on me.

I should have been born in the Sixties. Everyone says so. I'm obsessed with it. I own every record the Beatles ever made, and I play them constantly – except, of course, when I'm listening to Dylan. He was incredible before he got religious and hokey. Then he lost his magic. But that doesn't surprise me. The church can do weird things to people. My Aunt Rose, for example, won't drink a glass of wine until she's made the sign of the cross over it. She learned that in some catechism class when she was a girl. The nuns drilled it into her and she never forgot.

I used to daydream a lot about going out with Dylan. Not like he is today with gray hair, alimony payments and a beer-belly, but like he was at the Newport Folk Festival in sixty-five when he went electric and knocked the music world on its ear. He was arrogant and sullen and he looked like the greatest hunk of man there could ever be.

To be honest, I'm not so sure what it is about the Sixties that fascinates me. I guess it's a combination of things. The music has a lot to do with it. The Doors and Jefferson Airplane and the Who -- all of them. They were all great. And everybody was involved with something. Things were always happening. I wish I’d been around to protest the war in Vietnam. I definitely would have been right up there leading the marches and working hard to get rid of Tricky Dick Nixon. He was our worst president (our current president excluded, of course). First off there was his “secret” plan to end the war – which ended up meaning he was going to bomb North Vietnam back to the Stone Age, invade Cambodia and, along the way, kill a few college students at Kent State.

My mother thinks my fascination with the Sixties is amusing. Sometimes she even says it’s “cute.” That makes me want to puke – but there’s a lot about my mother that makes me want to puke. She’s one of those people who are always happy and always smiling. She tries to see the good side in everything and everybody. There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, but you have to draw the line somewhere. I asked her once how she felt about Vietnam – whether she had been a hawk or a dove – and she just looked at me with that sugary-sweet smile that she uses on her patients.

“Those were very trying times, Marie,” she said quietly. “A lot of things were said and done in anger and frustration, and a lot of people got hurt. Everyone meant well, though, and when you look back on it, everyone really wanted the same thing.”

 I’ve always thought my mother should have been a politician. She can beat around the bush as well as anyone. Maybe that’s why she decided to become a psychologist. She gets to sit around all day and smile a lot and lay a lot of double-talk on crazy people who don’t have the slightest idea what she’s talking about but figure it must be incredibly insightful because they’re paying a ton of money to hear it. It’s a crazy world.

 The Sixties, of course, were even crazier; but that’s what I love most about them. It was okay to be crazy then. Everybody was.

 I would’ve fit right in. My boyfriend, Steven, wouldn’t have. He’s way too traditional.

 Steven likes to tell me that I live in a fantasy world.

 “You can’t live your life in the past,” he likes to say. “The Sixties are dead. You have to look at today and plan for tomorrow.”

Sometimes Steven sounds like an old man, but I’m crazy about him anyway. We’re practically total opposites, but we get along real well and we probably stop each other from going too far in either extreme – craziness or dullness. We make fun of each other and bicker sometimes, but we hardly ever have really big arguments. Or at least we didn’t before Jimi came into the picture.

Jimi is definitely the most unique person I’ve ever known. My experiences with him are probably the closest I’ll ever get to living life the way it was in the Sixties. Our love-hate relationship was exciting and terrifying – like a wild rollercoaster ride with twists and turns, incredible highs, and gut wrenching lows. I wasn’t supposed to talk about it for a long time, but now that the trial is over I’m allowed to.

And I swear, on Jimi’s grave, that it will be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

So help me God.