Monday, June 9, 2014

The Last Days of California by Mary Miller

Road trip to the almost Rapture

Mr. Metcalf believes the end of the world is coming -- the Rapture sucking the saved to heaven.  He packs his wife and two daughters into the car and they set off from Alabama to California. Jess, the narrator, and Elise, the wild older sister are two completely different personalities.  Elise is pregnant and rebellious.  Jess is devout but ready to explore.  The novel consists of fast food lunches and motel pools filled with packs of handsome boys.

Not much happens in this book though a meal at the Waffle House comes to life.  The writing is tremendous, lively and lyrical and the distinct characters are all sharply cut.  This is definitely a classic American road trip novel with religious overtones.  There really wasn't an ending.  Dad seems super mellow once his divine certainty is divinely snubbed.  They never do make it to California.

I guess I would call this a safe first novel.  The stakes are low.  It reminded me of the zombie novel I read recently -- a nibble instead of a bite.  Teenagers and their online lives are depicted -- maybe not so realistically.  Jess seems depressed by the internet.  I'm not a teenager but I'm in close proximity to them.  In a way, the internet is them.  Teen sex is shown as dreadful -- it's the status symbol of the boy the girl is after, not an orgasm or even emotional fulfillment.

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