Books Read in August


“California” a novel by Edan Lepucki

On the map, their destination had been a stretch of green, as if they would be living on a golf course.

Yet another yummy novel to feed my post-apocalyptic genre obsession. In a frighteningly realistic future, Lepucki imagines a world wrecked by climate change, income inequality and flu. Cal and Frida have fled a collapsing Los Angeles for the isolation of the wilderness where they squat in a house left by neighbors who apparently committed suicide. They live off the land with only each other for company.

They rely on visits from loner, August, who brings news of the area along with goods to trade. When Frida becomes pregnant, they decide to venture past their boundaries to the nearest settlement, hoping for a place and community in which to be a family. But the possibility of security comes at price, a price they are not sure they are willing to pay.

We learn about Frida and Cal’s past and how that past may eventually catch up with them. While the premise is intriguing, unlike other dystopian stories I’ve read, there is a lot more focus on the characters.

The whole story hit a little too close to home with the thought of college students revolting over the sky-rocketing costs of tuition and the huge gap between the wealthy and the rest of the people, a gap that basically contributes to the downfall of society as we know it.

What I learned: To stay close to the characters in order to ground a dystopian vision of the future.

“Accidents of Marriage” a novel by Randy Susan Meyers

Maddy ran her tongue over her teeth, imagining the bitter taste of a crumbling tablet of Xanax.

Ah…where to start with this gem of novel? Well, the first sentence, right? How can you not be intrigued? I was and continued to be intrigued throughout the whole messy story of Maddy and Ben’s complicated marriage and its effects on their three children.

Like Robin Black’s “Life Drawing,” we are given an intimate look at a struggling marriage between two beautifully flawed people. Ben has a temper. A real temper that results in ugly speech and the throwing of objects, leaving his family walking on eggshells much of the time, never knowing what might set him off. It would be so easy to dislike him— I should say to only dislike him—but Meyers gives us a complete view of an imperfect man, husband and father.

When Ben’s temper causes a life-changing accident, the entire family is left to pick up the pieces. Alternating from the POV of Maddy, Ben and their teenage daughter, Emma we get an insider’s look at an average family in crisis.

This one kept me up at night.

What I learned: To allow your characters their flaws.

“Quarantine- book One, The Loners” a YA novel by Lex Thomas

Someone must have bitten off her nose.

My thirteen-year-old niece gave me this to read so that she could have somebody to talk to about it. She thought it would be right up my alley, and it was.

She described it as a cross between “The Hunger Games” and “Lord of the Flies.” That pretty much sums it up.

A huge explosion devastates McKinley High school. Not only that, but apparently all of the students have virus that is deadly to adults. All of the teachers die and the kids are left on their own, quarantined and completely cut off from the outside world expect for bi-weekly food drops.

Cliques mutate into gangs, lines are drawn as deadly power struggles ensue. David and his younger brother Will try to stick together but find they are fighting alone against the whole school. Can they survive on their own?

It is a dark and very violent novel that looks at what happens when kids are isolated and left to survive on their own.

What I learned: That I skim over the really violent parts so I wonder how necessary they are. Could more be implied rather than vividly described?



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