A Different California: The State of Jefferson: Background information when reading Barbed Wire Heart

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Barbed Wire Heart

A Thriller

by Tess Sharpe

Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe X
Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2018, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2019, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
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About this Book

A Different California: The State of Jefferson

This article relates to Barbed Wire Heart

Print Review

Barbed Wire Heart is set in the wilderness forest of northern California. In a state widely known for its big money areas of Southern California and the Silicon Valley Bay Area, as well as its rich farmland in the center, the northern region—from Sacramento to the Oregon border—is starkly different in geography, economics, and politics. The community portrayed in Tess Sharpe's story feels quite a bit like southern Appalachia.

Mount Shasta, towering over the summit of Lassen Peak In contrast to large metropolises in the rest of the state such as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, northern California counties are made up of much smaller cities. The state capital Sacramento, by far the largest city in the area, is ranked only sixth in population for the state. About 90 miles northeast of San Francisco, Sacramento's population, at slightly over half a million, is an eighth of LA's, which has close to four million. From the Sacramento River basin, out to the world renowned vineyards of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, the land is rich and wide open. The giant redwoods grow on the western coast and the Klamath Mountain range looms on the horizon. Northern California is also home to the Emerald Triangle, one of the largest cannabis-producing regions in the United States (marijuana is now legal in California).

Political views tend to be more conservative here than in the rest of the state. In general, political views inland tend to be more conservative than on the coasts, and political views in rural areas (mostly inland) are also more conservative than the cities. For the 2016 presidential election, California as a whole voted for Hillary Clinton. However, of the twenty counties in the northern counties of the state, sixteen voted for Donald Trump.

As with many other regions in the country, this disconnect between rural residents and major city inhabitants has led to an increased vocalization of discontent. There is a growing call among northern California residents for more representation and less regulation. With only three out of 40 seats of representation in the state senate, and two out of 53 seats in the United States House of Representatives, a few activists want to secede and form a new, 51st state. First proposed in 1941, with periodic resurgence of the movement, the "State of Jefferson" would combine the northern California counties with those of southern Oregon. Their "Declaration of Unity" makes it clear they do not wish to leave the United States, but to have their beliefs more fully represented "within the greatest nation ever designed."

Regardless of your political views, there is no doubt northern California is a beautiful place to visit. Lakes and rivers, the Pacific coastline, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Redwood National and State Parks, and immense mountains including iconic Mount Shasta, offer stunning views of our natural world.

Picture of Mount Shasta, towering over the summit of Lassen Peak, even from a distance — in northeastern California by Kai Schreiber

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Sarah Tomp

This "beyond the book article" relates to Barbed Wire Heart. It originally ran in April 2018 and has been updated for the March 2019 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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