Book Review: I-69 Does Not Stop Here

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I-69 Does Not Stop Here
By Sean Connelly
This four hundred page novel is fiction, which should go without saying, but needs to be  clarified because it is based on a real-life struggle over a battle that has taken place in  Bloomington Indiana for the past ten years. The real life battle is between the community
and the mixture of corporate interest, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and Federal Agencies who want to see the I-69 interstate extension accommodate increased NAFTA trade by having a corridor from Canada to Mexico. Seven of nine Bloomington
City council members oppose the I-69 extension through their community. They point out alternative routes (running parallel with old US 41) which would make more sense and do less harm to the environment and to the communities involved.
Sean Connelly, the author, and his partner Kay lived in Urbana and I met them through
activist work on the Lincoln Trailer Park project back in 1996. He sent the book to me and asked me to review it. I was hesitant. Four hundred pages from a first time, self-published author on a political cause that he was personally involved in? Sounded like good gettingto-
sleep material. Wrong. This novel captured me with its intrigue and unfolding story line cleverly threaded with historical and current facts. It was a lesson in the ruthless means taken to squash political dissent and to undermine the will of the people when that will does not fall in line with corporate interest.
As it became more and more clear that the intent of the novel was to educate the reader who might not know this history I worried that at some point the storyline was going to be  subjugated to the education. I thought that at any moment I might be beaten over the head. Instead I found myself wanting to get back to the book to find out what happened next to Fionn (the tree-sitting main character), and the band of activist, anarchist, farmers, sorority sisters, sheriff and others who through alternative media, web activism, personal contact, education, music, and more come together as a community. I found the information regarding how PR firms work, the methods of the FBI, the history of why we have highways
instead of mass transit all played to the plot and not the other way around.
I found myself hopeful. The author says, “This novel is about protest in the face of corporate government and corporate media, and largely about what it takes –unity – to combat these forces that create reality through repeated illusion.” I know it’s fiction. There are some places in the plot that stretched a little thin, but I wanted to believe. I wanted to believe that unity could stop a highway.
For after all, what else will? I’m allowing for the possibility that this work of fiction, of unity prevailing, of the building of community being worth the effort, is a foreshadowing of things
to come. I find myself hopeful that life will imitate art (having taken its inspiration from life) will imitate art will imitate life, and that some battles will be continued to be won.
One copy of the book is available for borrowing from the IMC library and more are available for purchase.You can order directly from or

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