Up Late with California by Edan Lepucki


My mother was telling me about this book when we were at NCTE in Washington, DC this past November.  She ended up procuring a copy for me while we were there, and I’ve only just gotten around to reading it–but I could not put it down once I started.  I even had a conversation with a friend about what we might do to prepare for the end of modern civilization as we know it…

Frida and Cal moved out of LA to the country when it became too much for them. They live off the land in a small shed, wash laundry in a stream, forage for mushrooms and berries, and set snares hoping for small game. The cities have all lost power and while some gated communities still exist, you have to have a lot of money to buy your way into them. Although they worry about Pirates, Frida and Cal live a good life, and even meet some neighbors, the Millers, who have two small children. In the world they’re in, there’s time for boredom, time for thinking about the way the world once was: “Time moved forward, but the mind was restless and stubborn, and it skipped to wherever it pleased, often to the past: backward, always backward.”

Everything changes when Frida realizes she’s pregnant, and she and Cal decide to search for others so she can have her baby in a safer place. They decide to venture toward the Spikes by following August, the trader who takes his horse by their house about once a month. The Spikes are massive statues jutting out of the ground–meant to warn people to stay away, but also colossally beautiful and made out of repurposed items no longer useful in this new world. What lays beyond them is unimaginable to Friday and Cal and will change their lives forever.

I enjoyed the storyline and I particularly enjoyed that this suggested future doesn’t seem too unbelievable. The results of using precious resources without recourse makes sense. I don’t think it is impossible that the world Lepucki envisions here might be in our future. It made me stop and think about all the things I have that I appreciate right now.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

Up Late with California by Edan Lepucki

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