We admire the best dystopian novels because they're written well and depict people we can relate to" which...I guess, but you could just drop "dystopian" from that sentence and it would still be accurate. I don't have a hard-and-fast reason for why I read dystopian novels. I think part of it is there are so many out there, it's pretty easy to end up reading them even if you aren't searching them out. And thus we come to California by Edan Lepucki.
I picked up a copy of this when it was on sale after both Megs and Alice recommended the book and it may take me a thousand years, but I DO actually listen to people's recommendations.
As to be expected from a dystopian novel, society has collapsed. As it does. Cal and Frida are a young(ish) couple, alone in the woods getting by without civilization or electricity or anything I require to function. Things seem to be going well, or as well as things can be in this type of situation, when Frida realizes she's pregnant and maybe entirely alone isn't the best way to be. They haven't seen other people, except for the trader that comes by every once in awhile, in a long time but there have to be other people somewhere near by. The trader is trading with someone. So they venture out of the relative safety they know and into the unknown where they find a town that OF COURSE is full of secrets and mysteries.
There is a division of class that is exaggerated by the fact that the world has fallen apart, but hits a lot closer to home than will make you comfortable, as people who can afford to live in one of the secure "Communities" that have popped up live very different lives from those who are forced to live in the wilderness that has overtaken society.
I won't get too into the mysteries and secrets and other members of the town lest I give away vital plot points. There are bits that you see coming and others that are complete surprises. The chapters jump back and forth between Frida and Cal who have very different points of view on what is going on and what it means for them and their growing family.
The ending is a bit of a non-ending. Or rather, the ending feels like the beginning of a sequel. Not that this is a bad thing. It is what it is and it feels honest to the characters.
Overall a good, and yes, well-written, book. One worth checking out, whether or not dystopian is something you're actively seeking out or just something you trip into because there's so much of it out there.
Title quote from 254, location 3209
Lepucki, Edan. California. Little, Brown and Company, 2014. Kindle