California By Edan Lepucki: My Review Plus Answers To Book Club Discussions Questions

California by LepuckiThis is my review and thoughts on California By Edan Lepucki.

Rating system:

God, I wish I had that time back in my life = 0
Eh, it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read = 1
Shrug, I mean, it was okay = 2
I enjoyed it = 3

Have your read this book? It’s pretty good = 4
Wow, you need to read this book now = 5

California = 0.5

Overall, this is one of the worst books I have ever read in my life. California is downright horrible — from the characters, to the uneven plot, terrible characterizations, and ultimately, a completely unsatisfying ending.

I recommend that you do not read this book.

I could barely pick discussion questions because there really isn’t much to say — the book left that bitter a taste in my mouth. Also, I do have a strong desire not to disparage the author so I will keep it short and simple.

Here are my answers to book club questions (questions provided by the publisher).

What meaning do Frida’s artifacts hold for her? How do they serve as a connection to her former life? If you had to abandon your life, what sentimental items might you keep?

I have no idea what the artifacts were supposed to mean. I truly believe the author missed the mark on this. Perhaps the author had some thoughts about what she wanted the artifacts to represent, but it was most certainly not conveyed. A turkey baster? Why? It makes no sense. Was it some convoluted way to discuss procreation? A throwback to a bygone era of second-hand, manual fertilization?

What is so seductive about communities, be it superficial ones, like The Land, or natural ones, like family? What does community mean for each of the characters in California?

I think safety is a bonus of the town/communities, however, no one can be absolutely safe, as evidenced by Micah. For Frieda, I don’t know. She was all over the place. One moment she wants in, the next out, then back in … then, oh I don’t know. At the end Frieda wasn’t happy in the town/community or with Cal.

I do think the author was trying to make an overall point about the communities and where our country is at right now. Currently, America is struggling with race, wealth distribution, and healthcare. There is an attempt to fix these problems in our society, but the effort seems very small in comparison to how big the issue is. There is also a large portion of America, as evidenced by the rise of Donald Trump, who are now outwardly showing their racism and hatred. Perhaps the author is saying that this is what the country could move toward without stronger policies in place. In California, the communities make no attempt to disguise that only wealthy people can be a part of the community. There is no help for anyone who does not have money. Is this the central question posed by the book — what would happen if all illusions fell in America? Would this be our future? 

How does the author depict gender roles in the novel? Do you think these roles make sense given the nature of the society? Why or why not?

The book seemed to regress to “traditional” roles. However, this is completely unnecessary in the book and in society, so, no — this doesn’t make sense. 

What do you make of Frida and Cal’s marriage at the end of the novel? How do you think it’s changed over the course of the book?

The relationship did not survive. Too many lies and too much mistrust. Cal did not have the relationship with Frieda that he thought he did. Frieda didn’t seem to appreciate her husband or what she had with him. 

Do you think Frida and Cal’s child will live a happy life?

I couldn’t say. 

That finishes my discussion on the book — as much as there was one. There really isn’t much to say about it. It really was a terrible book and a poor choice for a book club. I mean, the only thing to talk about is the inconsitencies and the lack of cohesion.

Until next time.

****

Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Diego. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at madelinefresco.com. Her second book THE CHOICE, is available on Kindle at Amazon. Her third book ANGUISH, is available for Kindle at Amazon.com

Why It Is So Hard To Be A Chronic Pain Patient: The Loss of Your Previous And Future Self

 

Unforgiven tree“It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. You take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have”

-Unforgiven

 

This quote from the wonderful movie Unforgiven completely sums up why chronic pain is so debilitating and heart-wrenching. It doesn’t take just one part of your life — it takes everything. You grieve for the life you once had, and you grieve for the life you could have had. Chronic pain has a compounding effect.

You grieve for your past self. The one who played sports. The one who would go to the gym. The one who went to work. The one who could walk out of the house, carefree, grab a coffee and go on walk or hike. The one who would take their dog for a walk. The one who could go on vacation. The one who could travel on an airplane to see family. The one who would meet up with friends for brunch, for dinner, for drinks — maybe even all three in a day … who knew? The world was your oyster.

All that … gone.

So you think to yourself, due to my current restrictions, what can my present/future self do?

The answers can be excruciating.

You’ll never have kids — you’re physically incapable of birth or raising them. You’re never going to have a dog — you can’t physically take care of one. You’ll never travel again — you physically can’t sit in the airplane seat or get to the airport (no Neuschwantstein Castle or Bavaria). You’ll never be physical with someone again — your body can’t tolerate it (that probably prevents you from ever having a relationship again).  You’ll never be able to go to Lambeau Field (insert your team stadium here) and watch your team play in one of the best football venues in the world.

You’ll never wake up a day without debilitating pain.

Also in terms of the future, chronic pain takes away your ability to overcome. The concept that if  you work hard enough, find the right doctor, in the future, you will be cured. There is no overcoming a different way of life. No losing a leg to be fit with a prosthetic. No wheelchair bound life. No change in diet that you have to get used to. There is just unrelenting pain that takes away your ability to engage, to leave your house, and to participate in your own life.

The harsh reality is that even if you can wrap your brain around all that you have lost and all that you will never have, you are still left with the pain. The pain is always there.

This is why it is so hard to be a chronic pain patient.

— Blogs, stories and articles like this need to get the word out about what the chronic pain patient really has to endure. We are reduced to whiners, apathetic people who just don’t try hard enough. We are told to buck up. We are told that we are drug addicts. We are told we need to get over ourselves. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our chronic pain, we are hidden from society — there isn’t a face to the disease out and about in the world because we are in beds or on the couch.

*Let’s change that. Let’s be heard. Only then will the medical community and society make our cause their cause.

Until next time.

****

Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Diego. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at madelinefresco.com. Her second book THE CHOICE, is available on Kindle at Amazon. Her third book ANGUISH, is available for Kindle at Amazon.com