Blinded by the Smoke by Linda Stefko is a coming of age story as well as a cautionary tale, and a fictional foray into the lives of middle-class daughters and sons of the late 1960's in western Pennsylvania. It offers strong messages concerning alcoholism, college fraternity hazing, and the Vietnam War. The struggles of Sharon Quinn and her friends mirror a nation caught up in an unpopular war and changing beliefs. Youthful rebellion and new expressions of these beliefs are reflected in their music and culture, led by the pied pipers of rock n roll who brand an entire generation with life's new Top 40 philosophies. After Sharon's boyfriend, Jerry, leaves for Vietnam to serve in the army, she searches for the true meaning of love, belonging, and commitment. Her devotion to Jerry is challenged by a campus charmer named Jim, who adds adventure and chaos into her life. She and her college friends test boundaries and explore freedoms when exposed to the campus party culture common at the time. Some suffer for it. Subplots woven into the college setting involve depression, alcoholism, rape, fraternity hazing, and the meaning of friendship. When at home in Pittsburgh, Sharon is anchored by strong family ties and we glimpse her relationships with her parents, grandmother, and sister. She also develops a bond with an older businesswoman who is wrestling with a long buried secret. While seeking clear visions of their futures, the characters in Blinded by the Smoke experience joys as well as heart-wrenching sorrows. Fifty years later, today's college students face many of the same questions that troubled the youth of the 1960's: Where do I belong? Who can I trust? Should I turn a blind eye to the nefarious behavior of peers and when does it become a matter of conscience? One can be blinded by the sun, by darkness, by smoke, by lies. To see clearly is a matter of perception. Eyes can be tricked and blinded to the truth just as easily as lies deceive the ears. One may look but not see, and hear but not understand. Open the eyes to the heart and protect it, therein lies the truth.