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Golden State    by Michelle Richmond order for
Golden State
by Michelle Richmond
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though many novels are gripping, they are rarely so engrossing that I read nonstop start to finish. I did so with Michelle Richmond's Golden State. It's hard to categorize. Threads run through the plot of strong family resentments, forgiveness and redemption, mysteries surrounding a missing child and a stalker, violence and unrest as California considers secession.

Physician Julie Walker begins her day in San Francisco by signing divorce papers even though she still feels very close to her husband Tom, a popular radio show host. It soons becomes evident that loss of their beloved son Ethan broke their marriage and that both blame Julie's younger sister Heather (who 'lived in a dramatic world of her own making') for whatever happened.

As the story opens, we learn that Heather, an unmarried veteran and chronic liar, has just gone into labor in a VA hotel room near the veterans' hospital where Julie works, and that, despite their differences, her sister is attempting to rush to their side. But San Francisco us in an uproar. It's voting day and people are rioting.

Michelle Richmond moves her novel back and forth in time, alternating the doc's journey to her sister and what transpires afterwards with the back story of her marriage, the loss of their son, and Julie's once close relationship with Dennis, the disturbed veteran who is now obsessed with every detail of her life - and who has taken hostages.

As events evolve, Julie is forced to make a very hard decision, one that goes against all her training. And when it's over and she finds herself 'forty, childless, possibly jobless, with broken bones and a broken marriage, citizen of a broken country', she realizes there's really only one choice, 'make something of it, or don't'. Read Golden State; you won't regret it.

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