Cooper (O'Driscoll's Treasure) realistically captures the paradox of the simplicity and complexity that come with freedom borne of youth and innocence in this novel set in 1966. Stephen, at 15, starts out on a cross-continental journey in search of his older brother. The author sets up obstructions in the form of a love triangle with fellow travelers Astrid and Jerry, smuggling drugs across foreign borders, and also Stephen's misguided trust in a teacher. While drugs play a key role in Stephen's trek, the author does not glorify them, and the protagonist's rather sheltered point of view allows readers to share his wide-eyed enthusiasm as he encounters his many firsts along the way. The young explorer's enlightenment and self-discovery span generational bounds, giving today's readers access to a defining era. One astute similarity can be seen between Stephen's time spent in Iran and the current atmosphere in that country (""It was dangerous here, he knew that. There was always danger here for a traveler and a non-Muslim""). Explorers from all walks of life will appreciate the discoveries Stephen makes in the world around him, as well as within himself. Ages 14-up.