3 of 5 stars
I received a pre-release copy of this book through a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
When I first picked up Golden State I was immediately intrigued, a lot confused, and a little scared because the plot has so much work to do from the very beginning. The story is set in one day in a near future San Francisco, and it is definitely not your ordinary day. You are immediately thrown into the fire, and by the end of the first chapter you know the following:
1) Julie is a doctor. Julie’s sister is in labor, and she has to get to the other side of the city to deliver the baby.
2) Julie’s ex-friend/boyfriend/thing is angry and hostile and is holding people in her hospital hostage while demanding to speak with Julie.
3) Julie’s divorce may or may not be finalized today.
4) Today is the day of the vote for California to secede or not secede from the United States. Therefore, vandalism, robbery, rioting, police blockades, etc. abound.
5) Julie and her husband used to have a son, and Julie’s sister is the reason that they don’t anymore.
The story is told in 3 parts: Now, earlier that morning, and the back story. Each chapter switches to a different time all told from Julie’s point of view. Sounds confusing but really it’s not since the chapters are short and begin with which time frame you are in. I’ve never read any other books written this way, and in my opinion it was great organization (go editor!). It created a lot of suspense and really kept the story moving.
Throughout the story you learn how Julie met and fell in love with her husband, how they had a son, and how they lost him. You learn about her childhood in Mississippi and how she fulfilled her dreams of “escaping” the South to become a doctor. And you learn about her strained past relationship with her sister and the new relationship that develops.
To me, there are a lot of parallels between the author’s life (Richmond grew up in Laurel, MS and now lives in California) and Julie’s life, so I feel like she uses her character as a soap box in some parts – she paints a picture of the South being a place that everyone wants to escape (I love the South even though I no longer live there), and she uses the secession issue to portray her own political views. So the book seemed preachy in some parts, but not to an overwhelming extent.
Overall, this is a very entertaining read with a good but not too neatly wrapped up ending. However, the story was lacking in the emotion department until the very end. I just wasn’t quite as invested in the characters and their outcome as I wanted to be. I would say the book was mostly a sequence of events, although a very entertaining sequence of events.
So there you have it.. Golden State is released on Feb. 4 (MY BIRTHDAY!!) if you want to give it a shot.