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*Starred Review* Mesmerizing and intricate, Richmond's dissection of a California on the violent brink of secession from the nation provides the backdrop to her deeper inspection of the uneasy, fragile relationship between siblings. Julie and Heather grew up in the South on a diet of hush puppies and evangelical fire in church. Julie fled her roots for medical school in San Francisco, leaving behind her sister at the same time. Along the way, she acquired a husband, a child, and a degree. But when she wasn't looking, everything reordered itself, and Julie's life jumped onto a roller coaster without her permission. On the eve of the vote over seceding, Heather is about to give birth, and Julie must cross volatile territory in order to help her. Estranged for four years, the sisters also must navigate personal histories and intersections like land mines. Complicating matters further, an emotionally unstable man is holding people at Julie's hospital hostage to get her attention. All these seemingly random situations are tied together during a single day with breathtaking grace by Richmond in an understated yet riveting read that can be recommended to fans of Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Remembering a quote from Richmond's protagonist is probably the best way to approach her intricate, unusual story. -Julie Merrill must focus and "recalibrate her world." And so must the reader of this amazing, turbulent novel woven of disparate threads. The narrative unfolds with Julie, a doctor at the VA hospital in San Francisco. Her marriage has recently dissolved; her erratic younger sister appears, demanding Julie deliver the sister's baby; and a hostage situation develops, involving those close to Julie. While these issues form a rich domestic drama, there is an additional wrinkle: Californians are voting on this particular day to determine whether the state will secede from the United States. Because of the demonstrations and chaos in the streets, Julie must navigate with difficulty her way to the hospital. As she attempts her journey, she recalls her earlier life during which she managed to escape the narrow confines of her youth in rural Mississippi. VERDICT Nearly every feature of this mesmerizing novel is provocative, as Richmond explores the fragmented, hopeful lives of complex characters. This is gripping, multilayered must-read fiction from the best-selling author of The Year of Fog (which was an LJ Best Book of 2007).-Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.