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The Last Days of California

by Mary Miller

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2141792,367 (3.56)14
Fourteen-year-old Jess' beliefs falter when her evangelical father packs up the family, including her secretly pregnant older sister and her long-suffering mother, to travel across the country and save souls ahead of the anticipated end of the world.



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Reminded me of a more naturalistic Karen Russell. ( )
  ralphpalm | Nov 11, 2019 |
One of the truths of parenthood is that long car drives with your teenage children can be a trial or a revelation. Often the only time parents can get their kids to talk, is when they are away from the TV, friends, and especially if cell phone reception is sketchy (yay I-90 through the Catskills!).

Jess and her evangelical family are driving to California to await the end of days. This is the ultimate road trip. In their cramped car family issues come bursting out. Some secrets are laid bare, some hidden forever, some fears are faced, some left to haunt another day. Despite the religious backstory the issues Jess and her family struggle with are familiar. Her older, prettier sister is in trouble, her father has put their family in yet another precarious situation. Jess herself is having a mini crisis of faith. As they stop at motels along the way the sisters test their parents' rules; do they still apply if the world is going to end in a few days? Should they worry about calories? Does that cute boy really like me? Why haven't any of my friends texted me?

The juxtaposition of the day to day worries of a teenager against the belief that the world might be coming to an end heighten the immediacy and single mindedness of the teenage brain. Decisions are made, will Jess have to live with them? Will she regret them?

Some scenes were almost painful as I watched Jess throw herself into situations that a naive teenager would/could. I wanted to barge in and intervene, but had to read on and passively follow her journey. This was a quick and thought provoking read! Great material for a book club! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I was probably too old to appreciate this book and I also know that people should not believe anyone who thinks they can tell you when the rapture will occur. I suppose the author was making fun of those who do believe they can predict what God will do, but I hope that no teens reading this think they should try everything out there just because the world will end soon. ( )
  eliorajoy | Dec 2, 2015 |
In anticipation of the Rapture, 14 year-old Jess's evangelical father packs up her family and heads west toward California, with the goal of saving souls along the way. On their journey, Jess discovers her rebellious older sister is secretly pregnant, causing her to reevaluate herself, her family and her religion. Each stop will lead the increasingly splintered family down an unexpected, but welcome, path.

From the first pages of The Last Days of California, Miller's refreshing tone rings clear. Though they hand out tracts in their Jesus t-shirts, Jess and her sister argue with one another, listen to pop music and regularly question their parents’ authority. The novel's characters feel surprisingly real and avoid the strict stereotypes often used to summarize the evangelical.

Miller’s ability to point out recognizable quirks in everyday sights and moments fills her novel with a signature, contemporary voice that has power to propel a career. The Last Days of California is a smart-witted and brilliantly observant debut you won't want to miss.
- See more at: http://www.rivercityreading.com ( )
  rivercityreading | Aug 10, 2015 |
A story about a religious family travelling across America for the 2nd coming and the separate journeys of the two teenage daughters. Loved it. ( )
  SarahStenhouse | Mar 18, 2015 |
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For my parents, Dolores and Curt
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It was Wednesday and we hadn't even made it to Texas yet.
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Fourteen-year-old Jess' beliefs falter when her evangelical father packs up the family, including her secretly pregnant older sister and her long-suffering mother, to travel across the country and save souls ahead of the anticipated end of the world.

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