The Golden State (Kobo eBook)

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NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION 5 UNDER 35 PICK. FINALIST FOR THE VCU CABELL FIRST NOVELIST AWARD. LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION'S FIRST NOVEL PRIZE.

Named one of the Best Books of 2018 by NPR, Bookforum and Bustle. One of Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Debut Novels of 2018. An Amazon Best Book of the Month and named a fall read by Buzzfeed, Nylon, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Refinery29 and Mind Body Green

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.

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Staff Picks

Matt Wallace’s middle grade debut is a fast-paced dynamic story of 12-year old MJ who dreams of becoming a lucha libre – or wrestler. This unconventional sport has been shared & loved with MJ’s dad, Papi, who is now no longer in MJ and her mom’s life. Hiding the truth from herself (& readers), MJ goes to great lengths to avoid seeing her dad. MJ’s poor treatment by her former gymnastic teammates has alienated her as well as the struggling to make sense of middle school dynamics. Finding an outlet for her joy, friendship and a chance of being in the ring wrestling to “storytell”, her next door neighbor, Mr. Arellano, has offered her a chance to train at his wrestling academy. I was totally enthralled by the deep character development and uber-realistic scenes Wallace has painted with respect to MJ’s relationship with her now-single parent Mom as well as the wrestling basics & behind-the-scene techniques. The secondary plot of a cruel and vengeful athletic commissioner who wants to shut down Mr. Arellano’s academy leads to a hair-raising climax where MJ needs to save the day. Girls who enjoy sports that may not be typically portrayed in MG literature will shout for joy with MJ’s perseverance, her can-do attitude, as well as her vulnerabilities. This novel rings as true as the bell at the end of a match – A WINNER! - Reviewed by Maureen