Summary and book reviews of Crossing California by Adam Langer

Crossing California

By Adam Langer

Crossing California
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2004,
    448 pages.
    Paperback: May 2005,
    512 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

In 1979 California Avenue, in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, separates the upper-middle-class Jewish families from the mostly middle-class Jewish residents on the east of the divide. This by turns funny and heartbreaking first novel tells the story of three families and their teenage children living on either side of California, following their loves, heartaches, and friendships during a memorable moment of American history. Langer's captivating portraits, his uncanny and extraordinarily vivid recreation of a not-so-past time and place, and his pitch-perfect dialogue all make Crossing California certain to evoke memories and longing in its readers--as well as laughter and anxiety.

Whether viewed as an American Graffiti for the seventies, The (Jewish) Corrections, a Chicagoan Manhattan, or early Philip Roth for a later generation, Crossing California is an unforgettable, and thoroughly enjoyable, contribution to contemporary fiction.

WASSERSTROM
Jill

The day after an estimated seventy Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Jill Wasserstrom paused on the corner of North Shore and California Avenues to contemplate the accuracy of what she had proudly declared to Lana Rovner during recess at K.I.N.S. Hebrew School. What she had told Lana hadn't been quite true. She hadn't given Muley Scott Wills a big old hickey after eighth-grade phys ed at Boone Elementary School. She hadn't given Muley Scott Wills any sort of hickey at all. What had happened was that Muley Scott Wills had asked her if she wanted to go with him to Sun Drugs to pick up some items for his mother. She'd said sure, she had time before she had to go to Hebrew school, so she'd gone with him to buy a heating pad, a bottle of aspirin, two blocks of Neapolitan ice cream, three packs of Now and Later's, and a bag of Warner's spice drops, which they consumed before he said good-bye to her in front of K....

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Chicago Sun-Times

...closing the book...is the worst part of this engrossing debut novel.

People

...Langer drills to the core of people...as deeply as Jonathan Franzen did in The Corrections.... [4 stars]

Chicago Tribune

...the most vivid novel about Chicago since Saul Bellow's Herzog and the most ambitious debut...since Philip Roth's Letting Go.

The New York Times - Mark Kamine

… [Langer's] ambitious first novel, Crossing California, hits high points of comic empathy.

Publishers Weekly

His steely humanism balances the corruptions of ego against an appreciation of the energies of its schemes, putting him firmly in the tradition of such Chicago writers as Bellow and Dybek.

Kirkus Reviews

Two years, 1979-81, in the lives of two Chicago families-but so much more....Of epic scope, yet intimate in its accomplishments.

Booklist - Donna Seaman

Although Langer may have aimed for Philip Roth and landed, instead, beside David Sedaris, his novel is smart, affectionate, and uproariously entertaining.

Author Blurb Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook
A work of unusual mastery, compassion, insight and wit.

Reader Reviews
Stacy M

I really LOVED this book. It was not a quick read, but i was so happy for its length. I felt like i was there in chicago. Incredible vivid descriptions and charachter development. Read this book!

Anonymous

I am one of those people who vastly prefers character development to plot, and if you are like me, I'm certain you will find "Crossing California" to be an outstanding book. The members of three families struggle to find their way in 1970's...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Crossing California, try these:

  • Empire Falls jacket

    Empire Falls

    by Richard Russo

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    With all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling Russo extends even further his claims on the small-town, blue-collar heart of the country.

  • Telegraph Avenue jacket

    Telegraph Avenue

    by Michael Chabon

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Telegraph Avenue is the great American novel we've been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon's most dazzling book yet.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.