Omigosh. So sorry for the late entry! My parents were in town and I was super busy visiting with them so I finished the book a little late! This week I picked a sort of short book to get us back on track!
This week I read California by Edan Lepucki. It was basically about a future society where the world has fallen apart and feels a little post apocalyptic. The story centers on Cal and Frida, a couple who has been making their way through this crazy time. They find out Frida is pregnant in the beginning and so decide to head out to a sort of settlement nearby in the hopes of being a part of the community and getting help with the baby. When they get there they discover the unofficial leader of this group is Frida’s younger brother who they had both thought dead. They come to find out that Frida’s brother, Micah, is not as innocent as they may have thought and has done unspeakable things since they had last seen him.
I really enjoyed this book for the most part. I thought the description and the visuals were amazing and I could very clearly see this whole world laid before me. I also thought the story was very creepy because I could see something like this happening in the near future, especially with the current political climate. It’s a society where everyone is very much out for themselves and it’s scary to think about how similar that is to present day now. It definitely caused me a lot of stress when I was reading because I was just picturing myself in this world and what I would do. Honestly, if my boyfriend and I were stuck in a field by ourselves with nothing else to do but survive and no one else to talk to I would probably go crazy after a day. I suppose if there is no other option you just adjust but I hate staying in one place for too long and, even though I love my boyfriend, I would go crazy without some friends or family to talk to everyday as well. Also I have, like, no skills to speak of to survive in the wild. I can barely sew. With a sewing machine. I don’t know how I would mend clothes so they could last for as long as possible. Or hunt. Or forage for berries. If I had to look for berries that were not poisonous I am 106% sure I would fail and we would die. Now that I think about it I probably don’t have to worry about boredom or going crazy when I’m out there because I would, without a doubt, be one of the first waves of people dead.
Anyways, I digress. There were a lot of chilling scenes and images in this story as well that I loved. In the beginning Cal and Frida knew another family that settled not too far from them. It was a husband and wife and they had two small children. They didn’t see them often but they were their only friends in the world. In the beginning of the book we find out that, as far as Cal and Frida could see at the time, they had poisoned themselves and Cal had to bury the bodies. It left Frida wondering for weeks what made them suddenly decide to give up. I guess it was sort of relief when we found out that Micah made them take the poison. Well, not relief for Frida, but at least it didn’t seem like such an arbitrary choice they made.
Also the scene where they talked about giving away the children who were currently living in the settlement to a nearby “rich” community. I started crying hysterically at the thought. Especially for Anika. She was on the older side and probably didn’t think she could get pregnant. To just have to give up her son and to have no contact with him is just so depressing. I didn’t blame her for being kind of bitter over there. It was gross how Micah kept acting like it was all for the betterment of everyone at the settlement but he really was just carrying out a huge master plan and playing the long game. In the beginning of the book it seemed like Micah might have really wanted to help other people, but by the end it seemed as though he was out for himself, much like the people he was fighting against in the beginning.
Cal and Frida’s relationship was kind of weird for me. I feel like they were never on the same page. It was weird when she just shouted out that she was pregnant after the vote in the settlement. She knew that if people in the settlement knew she was pregnant it may sway their vote and make them not want them there but she just had to blurt it out without consulting Cal. Also, Cal just kind of weirdly ignored Frida their first couple weeks at the settlement. Like, your wife is pregnant and you guys are in a strange place. Maybe get a grip and check in with her a bit. And they both just kept flip flopping on what they wanted and were never on the same page at the same time. They also just did not seem to like each other. When they first got to the settlement and Frida was shocked to see her brother who she thought was dead Cal got annoyed at her behavior. I’m sorry. Give her a friggin break Cal her brother basically came back from the dead. Then Frida would get annoyed at Cal when he kind of looked pathetic or wasn’t good at defending himself. If that bothered her so much why was she with him? It didn’t seem like he ever sold himself as a piece of muscle who would defend people. It was just strange. I honestly don’t know why they stayed together. They were interesting on their own but together they were kind of an annoying couple.
It was kind of difficult to find a favorite character in this book. Everyone was definitely interesting and I enjoyed reading about them, but I realized at the end of it I didn’t really like anybody. I guess Sandy and Bo and their kids were the most pure. They were just living off the land and doing their best. I also really felt bad for Anika. She wasn’t nice or cuddly or anything, but I just felt like she was doing her best in a very difficult situation. She’d obviously been through a lot and was just a closed off person who was misunderstood.
One thing that sort of bothered me about this book is that there were a lot of open ended situations that would be half explained and then we wouldn’t get the full story. For instance, Micah was supposedly trading with the pirates and Bo saw it and that’s why he forced Bo and his family to eat the poison. That was all that was said of it though. I was just curious as to whether he was friends with the pirates and whether they played into his grander scheme. Also I wondered what was promised to the pirates to make them cooperate. There were also a few other instances or situation where something was vaguely brought up and then never really came to fruition.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. It flowed really well and I definitely found it easy to read. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section as well as suggestions for new books! This week I’m gonna read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.
Would you recommend to a friend: Yes!