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The Last Days of California: 06/05/16

The Last Days of California by Mary Miller

The Last Days of California by Mary Miller could just as easily be called Grapes of Rapture. A family of four is making a last minute road trip from Alabama to California on the belief that the end of days are approaching in four days and only true believers who make the pilgrimage will be spared.

The book is narrated by the youngest daughter who knows secrets about the rest of her family but manages to keep them to herself. She knows her evangelist father is out of work. She knows her mother is unhappy. She knows her sister is pregnant.

Each chapter is a day in their trip, starting in Texas. It's a blue highways journey through areas hit hard by the recession. Each place they stop is more down market from the last.

I read this book for my road narrative project. California, or more generically, the west coast, is often the goal of a road trip story. Here California is a literal promised land much as it was in Grapes of Wrath except that the book is only focused on the journey there, not on the consequences of arriving.

And as it's just the trip, which is obviously going to fail from the get-go, the book begins to drag. The narrator isn't invested enough in the purpose of the journey to sell it.

Three stars

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