I was surprised to find California by Edan Lepucki on several “Best” lists this year. While I did find it to be an easy, quick read I didn’t find the story itself to be as entertaining or engrossing as many of the reviews lead me to believe it would be. I didn’t regret reading California, but I certainly wouldn’t credit Lepucki with having written “a gripping and provocative debut novel” either.
Frida and Cal live in the woods. Alone. In a shack. Apparently the world has gone to shit, and they left a crumbling Los Angeles to find a more safe place to spend the rest of their days. In flashbacks we learn that Frida met Cal when she visited her brother Micah at one of those alternative colleges, where the students spend most of their time doing farm chores and having deep philosophical discussions with each other. Cal is a complete milquetoast from the mid-west who abandons his parents back home, to stay with Frida when things start to get crazy.