Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2022 (2022)
Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
usan Straight has a terrific, even passionate, sense of place. This book is especially for those who have lived and loved in southern California. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds are right in these pages. A CHP motorcyclist takes us out on the freeways as he catches speeders in the late night/early morning hours. A sprawling family living hidden in the canyons introduces us to the byways and mysteries there, and to the extreme fire danger that is so much a part of their lives.
s the opening pages acknowledge, sections of the book have appeared elsewhere, and the author artfully strings them together to provide a picture of people who live on the edge and are making it. Though outsiders do not understand, they know who they are and out of which stream of migrants they and their families came. Were their ancestors Native Americans? Early Spanish? Louisiana Blacks? No matter - they are Americans, and no ICE can tell them different.
s you can tell, I really enjoyed these stories, despite some difficulty. Many stories put together mean a large cast of people, and I couldn't always keep track of who was speaking and whether I had met them before. Nevertheless I can't wait to hear more about what happened to Manny.
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