Crossing California by Adam Langer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The first review I read about this book gave me the impression that the Americans taken hostage from the Iranian embassy under the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini played some part in the substance of this story. Only insofar as a time reference does the hostage crisis have any bearing on any part of the story that takes place in Crossing California. That misunderstanding coupled with the misleading title of this book made it somewhat disappointing for me from the beginning. Crossing California is very much like a Seinfeld television episode; it's really all about nothing.
Which is not to say that the book isn't entertaining, because for the most part it is. It's just that in spite of its humor and attempts at delving into the psyches of 3 different families, this is a story about the small episodes that make up the details of life as young people struggle and blunder on their trek through the terrible teens.
There's a lot of material about what it's like growing up Jewish during the early 80's in Chicago. There's also a lot of terms that most likely are very familiar to Jewish readers, but Gentiles like me never heard of the majority of it. The author, however, has provided plenty of context, so it's not really important to be familiar with principles of the Jewish religion and culture to understand the book. There are times these references are hilarious; there are also times when they're nothing but tedious.
It might be interesting to read another book by Adam Langer because I did appreciate the way he writes. I just wasn't very impressed with his story this time around.
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