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The Golden State: 12/20/20
The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling is set in a fictional high desert county in Northern California, near both the borders of Nevada and Oregon. Daphne is feeling the strain of being a single parent while her husband is stuck in Turkey. No longer able to cope she leaves work early, takes her infant daughter, Honey, out of daycare and heads to her parents' home in Altavista.
Kiesling describes the drive and for the most part sticks to actual landmarks. But when Daphne heads into her fictional county, the made up landmarks are very close to nearby ones, just ones south of Tahoe, instead of north of it. I personally found the choice to flip north and south distracting — the first of many details that pulled me out of the novel.
The entire timeline takes only ten days. Ten days spread over 304 pages. Unfortunately these days are weighted so that the first few are given the bulk of the pages. The last quarter of the book is where everything happens but I had already lost any ability to care about Daphne and her daughter.
The 225 or so pages before the actual plot is bloated with the mundane details of day to day life. Most of these details are centered on the minutia of Honey's life: what she eats, what she vomits, when she needs her diaper changed, what kind of mess in said diaper. Etc. The second favorite filler is the physical demands of motherhood. We get all the details of what it's like to be pregnant, to postpartum bleeding, the first period, breast feeding, etc., etc.
Here's the thing, I've been there and done that. I'm not sure what entertainment or literary enlightenment I'm getting by reading through these laundry lists of life. Frankly, it's boring. It was so boring that before Daphne had even met Alice, I no longer cared about anyone in the book.