Writer's recently reissued novel is set during the Vietnam War era — another time marked by political and social discord

Author Sandra Gurvis’ The Pipe Dreamers, first released in 2001, is set at the fictional Hayes University in Ohio during the late 1960s. This tumultuous time is captured in the novel, which was informed, in part, by the 1970 massacre at Kent State University, in which four students were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard during a mass protest, as well as the Jackson State University killings in Mississippi just 11 days later, where police shot and killed two students, injuring another 12.

With the country again embroiled in social and political turmoil, Gurvis is reissuing the novel, marking the occasion with an appearance and book signing at Thurber House on Thursday, July 18.

Gurvis was initially inspired to revisit the work by the approaching 50th anniversaries of events at Kent State and Jackson State, though a string of personal tragedies nearly upended the pursuit, including the end of her long-term marriage and the 2017 accidental overdose death of her son, Alex, following an eight-year struggle with addiction.

Once she started back in on the book, however, the words had a transportive effect.

“The history and the details immediately took me back to that often magical, sometimes frightening and confusing time and place,” Gurvis said in a press release. “I found myself getting so caught up in the plot that I kept forgetting to make the necessary corrections.”