A novel about one man’s coming-of-age in Southern California from debut author Miller.
Jake Reed is a young man who wonders where exactly his life is headed. Bored with his job running social media for a real estate firm, Jake decides to head out on his own to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. A writer, he feels, needs life experience. And life experience is exactly what he plans on getting as he explores West Hollywood and Manhattan Beach. Though his journey doesn’t take him far from Los Angeles County (save for a business trip to New Jersey), Jake encounters a variety of people. Befriending drug addicts, a reality show actor, immigrants, easy women and an elderly gentleman who lives in a hotel, Jake encounters a wide swath of characters as he enjoys (or fails to enjoy) sex, drugs and Facebook. With his laptop at the ready, his writing often becomes sporadic, though his dream always remains focused. Jake will become a writer, and he will do it in California. Miller skillfully depicts Southern California’s nuances. How different could West Hollywood and Manhattan Beach be, the uninitiated reader may wonder? Full of cultural details answering such questions, Jake’s journey has its moments of interest, even if Jake himself often does not. Overjoyed by vinyl records and encounters with authenticity (such as when Jake visits a Greek restaurant, orders a Greek beer, and the cheerful counterperson points out, “You’re the first non-Greek around here to ask for a Greek beer”), Jake can come across as simple but good-natured. In spite of his adventures, however, he remains largely unchanged. Many readers will likely sympathize with Jake and his dreams, though few are likely to find those dreams compelling, particularly when his ambitions are forestalled by unoriginal, small-scale debauchery.
Filled with insight into Southern California, the novel ultimately devolves in a quest for individuality narrated by an uninspiring individual.