The Golden State (MP3 CD)
A gorgeous, raw debut novel about a young woman braving the ups and downs of motherhood in a fractured America
In Lydia Kiesling's razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent-her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a processing error-Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.
But clarity proves elusive. Over the next ten days Daphne is anxious, she behaves a little erratically, she drinks too much. She wanders the town looking for anyone and anything to punctuate the long hours alone with the baby. Among others, she meets Cindy, a neighbor who is active in a secessionist movement, and befriends the elderly Alice, who has traveled to Altavista as she approaches the end of her life. When her relationships with these women culminate in a dangerous standoff, Daphne must reconcile her inner narrative with the reality of a deeply divided world.
Keenly observed, bristling with humor, and set against the beauty of a little-known part of California, The Golden State is about class and cultural breakdowns, and desperate attempts to bridge old and new worlds. But more than anything, it is about motherhood: its voracious worry, frequent tedium, and enthralling, wondrous love.
This book is peace. This book is quiet love. This book is flowers in bloom. This book is a TREASURE. The story of Tea Dragons, small dragons that grow tea leaves from their horns, and their caretakers, a task that takes deep love and dedication, and an art form that needs to be passed on by someone who feels love deep in their heart.... You cannot help but fall head over heels for Katie O'Neill's stunning story and beautiful artwork!! Her work takes me to a safe and beautiful place every time I read it. Truly a treasure of a book.
(Graphic Novel, Ages 9+) - reviewed by Isabel