Summary and book reviews of Crossing California by Adam Langer

Crossing California

by Adam Langer

Crossing California
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2004, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2005, 512 pages

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Book Summary

Poignant, ambitious, and tremendously fun, Crossing California is a novel about two generations of family and friendship; set in Chicago, from November 1979 through January 1981.

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....

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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

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