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Reviews for Hey, Liberal! 

"...Shiflett does a nice job illuminating a complex situation from multiple perspectives, and readers will find the book’s brisk final third—when various plotlines coalesce around rioting at the school—difficult to put down."

Kirkus Review

“People are always afraid of the truth. Hey, Liberal! is, I believe, a work of courage, and we all need to thank Shiflett for it.” 

Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage and winner of the National Book Award

"Shiflett’s insights into perennial teen issues of acceptance and conformity as well as timely scenes of racially motivated violence and justice will grab YAs.."

—Carol Haggas, Booklist (Click here for full review)

"As riveting as it is imaginative, Hey Liberal! pulls no punches, either with its unadulterated drama or its high humor; a vivid, urban, coming-of-age story that places us right in the middle of the race-relations tumult that wracked the nation in the late 1960s. A novel that speaks to that age, and to the way we live now." 

-- Eric Charles May, author of Bedrock Faith and winner of the One Book One Chicago Award

"At a time when Donald Trump is stoking distrust among the races, and the Black Lives Matter movement is challenging police departments over police shootings of black people, "Hey, Liberal!" might be dismissed as a frivolous tome. 


It isn't.

This novel tells a piece of our racial history that must be included as part of the conversation if we are to heal our wounds." 

—Mary Mitchell, The Chicago Sun-Times (click here for full article)

"In Hey, Liberal!, Shiflett confronts, through the character of Simon and others ... the minefield of race during the volatile 1960s.  It seems to me that Simon learns (as we have yet to learn as a nation): what is ultimately good for us is not necessarily good to us.  As a writer, Shiflett enters worlds where the risks are the greatest. And these are the stories that desperately need to be told."  —Wesley Brown, author of Dance of the Infidels, Tragic Magic, and Darktown Strutters.

"I think the genius of this book [is]... these burgeoning tensions between white and black Chicago."

— Rick Kogan, WGN Radio Chicago (click here for full interview)

"Hey, Liberal! had me laughing, crying . . . and cringing. (But yeah, we were that uncertain, naïve, clueless and confused.) Shiflett eschews the obvious revolutionary romance of Chicago in '68 and finds a better story in the aftermath and the ambiguities of Chicago in ’69, when the whole world wasn’t watching anymore and the big-ego reporters had abandoned a city still besieged by corruption, drugs, racism and gangs, where even a well-trained, well-meaning liberal white kid had to wonder—really wonder—if, when some black banger is beating you with a two-by-four, a brutal, racist white cop is such a terrible thing. Better yet, he finds the drama in the regular kids—not the precocious, New Left cool kids, but the awkward, eager, just-like-you kids, who are trying to cope with the angst of acne and the burden of virginity and still do the right thing . . . and survive. Wonderful characters, fine storytelling and a great read, even with the cringes."

—David Bradley, author of Channysville Incident and winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award


"Shiflett has written an edgy, no-holds barred insider account of student life during the late-1960s racial turmoil, which is distressingly relevant to us today... This is a coming-of-age novel akin to Catcher in the Rye, for Shiflett presents important insights into the usual teen issues of acceptance and conformity."

 —Charles Kuner, WINDY CITY REVIEWS (Click here for full review)

"Shawn Shiflett's Hey Liberal! is an arresting coming-of-age story, presenting an entirely singular perspective on race and politics during the turbulent late 1960's. Utilizing satire, pathos, and humor, Simon's story is as engaging as it is challenging."

 —Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned

"This is a story about surviving adolescence and figuring out how to take a stand. Shiflett is adept at capturing teenage angst and vernacular, as well as the uncomfortable and awkward ways kids navigate friendship and shift alliances. Chicago is as much a character in this novel as any of the people. As in his earlier novel Hidden Place, Shiflett, a professor at Columbia College, grapples with the universal themes of culture clash, racism, and the haves versus the have nots. Riots in the streets beget riots in the school, and Simon has to blindly thread a needle to save himself."

—Kate Burns, NEWCITY LIT (Click here for full review)

"... Shiflett’s novel, Hey, Liberal!, is a memorable and fast-paced novel that pulls the reader into the story from beginning to end. I was so engrossed with the story and its characters that I almost read the whole book in one sitting..."

—Chicago Life Magazine (New York Times weekend supplement) 

"...Hey, Liberal! may just be coming out when we need it most. Although writer Shawn Shiflett (Hidden Place) takes us back to the north side of Chicago in 1969, his brand new novel remains strikingly relevant to today’s issues.”"

— Claire Martin, Interviews Editor, Hair Trigger 2.0 (Click here for full review)

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