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by Mary Camarillo

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 2023
ISBN: 978-1647425654
Publisher: She Writes Press

In Camarillo’s novel, set in SoCal suburbia, the cast navigates life after Trump’s election.

Characters drive this story just as much as plot. Keith Nelson lives in his car after a showdown with his father. Ray Murdoch, one of the good guys, is his mother’s caretaker. Josh Kowalski is trying to get over his father’s abandonment of him and his mother, Martha. Then there is Jeannette Larson. She and her husband, Bob, lost their son in a hit-and-run. Bob is almost in denial, and Jeanette tries to treat her pain with promiscuity. Finally (among others) we have Realtor Lisa Kensington, a mover and shaker and self-appointed leader of the community (with another clueless husband, Eric). All this is in Wellington Beach in a neighborhood called Prestige Haven. But the city plans to build low-income housing right next door, and Lisa is outraged. More important, Bob, Eric, Keith are drawn to Doug, another guy in the neighborhood, and his friends—all committed MAGA bros. Soon political demonstrations bring the ugliness of our times to Wellington Beach, which had hoped to be spared all that. Events and dramatic tension escalate as readers wonder if everything will deteriorate into violence. It’s a good story with a lot of fine details and scenes. Keith Nelson is particularly fascinating. He isn’t stupid, but he is trusting and easily led; his childhood friend used to get him in trouble and leave him holding the bag. One clever device is to insert Lisa’s weekly promotional flyers as chapters—typical upbeat stuff that gradually gets edgier. The message of the book seems to be that we all need to step back from our prejudices and assumptions, take a deep breath, and realize that we are all in this together. A cliché, certainly, but mesmerizing nonetheless.

A worthwhile read with characters who grapple with timely political conundrums.