Wednesday, February 18, 2015
California by Edan Lepucki
I've been checking California out from the library, bringing it home and not reading it for a few months. Other books were just more appealing at the time, so this one did not get read. And then my partner bought it for me for a beach getaway and I (finally!) read it. Yay!
I was interested in this book because I'd read some good reviews. My partner was intrigued because Dan Chaon had a blurb on it as an endorsement. (Dan Chaon has written some dark and twisted - and very good! - things.) His endorsement says: "Stunning and brilliant...a wholly original take on the post-apocalypse genre."
Frida and Cal live in the woods. They came to the forest to survive. There's been some sort of societal collapse, and the people that are left have had to make drastic changes to survive. Cal's parents died in severe snowstorms in Cleveland. Frida's parents may or may not be alive in southern California. Frida's brother died a controversial death. Frida and Cal live in a small shack. With Cal's outdoor skills, they eke out a meager existence, though wonder how long they can live alone in the woods, especially when Frida realizes she's pregnant.
And then Frida finds neighbors, Bo and Sandy and their two children. It sounds almost idyllic, doesn't it?, two small families living in the wilderness, learning how to live off the land. Cal and Frida want it to be idyllic. Safe. It seemed good to have another family around for help and companionship.
While Cal and Frida are comforted to find others, they also have fear and questions. Why didn't Bo and Sandy disclose their existence to Cal and Frida from the beginning? Who is the mysterious traveler, August? Why did Frida's brother, Micah, die the way he did? And what are the Spikes and who lives beyond them?
Something shocking and disturbing happens, and Cal and Frida realize that they have to find answers. They leave their tiny settlement and find a well guarded community. This community can offer security, but at what cost? What are they hiding?
Lepucki releases the story carefully, leading us, along with Cal and Frida, deeper into this insulated community of survivors, where they have to navigate who they can trust and discern what they will do to ensure their own security.
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