You know a novel has to be good when it can overcome my traditional aversion to teenaged narrators–Holden Caulfield, Katniss Everdeen, Gabriela from Iris Gomez’s TRY TO REMEMBER, and Karen Thompson Walker’s Julia from THE AGE OF MIRACLES excepted. To that company I’m adding Jess, the heroine of debut novel & Indiebound pick THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA, who tells this story of a Rapture-bound road trip with her family that starts in a Waffle House en route from Alabama to California (where the world will naturally end).
Jess is sheparded by her evangelist father, who publicly injects himself with insulin at gas station restaurants and always drops food on his shirts; her mother, who looks like Marcie from Peanuts; and her beautiful and secretly pregnant sister Elise, who wears her King Jesus! t-shirts with all-but-invisible short-shorts. The relationship between the sisters is especially moving, the dialogue fresh and sharp without getting in the way: “The agnostics have to be the best-looking group,” [Elise] said. “Extremists rely too much on their extremism.”
Most of all, what I loved about THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA is what I look for in all good fiction: those observations along the way that make you say, “Hey, I feel that way too!” and, for a moment, you’re less alone in the universe. “At some point,” Jess says, “my feelings for my parents had changed. I…couldn’t think of anything to say to them, but it was periodically broken by a brief, crushing feeling, a love to intense that there was nothing left to do but reject it altogether.”
To buy & enjoy THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA, please click here.
* Please come back next week for another Friday Reads! *