Lydia Kiesling's The Golden State follows Daphne — an exhausted mother whose husband is stuck indefinitely in his home country, Turkey, after being pressured into surrendering his green card — over the course of her frantic escape from San Francisco to the abandoned family house in rural Northern California. There is a breathless, antsy energy propelling us through these nine days. The reader chases Kiesling's rambling, comma-less sentences like Daphne scrambles after baby Honey, who is always sliding, writhing, tumbling out of reach. It is enough, almost, to embody Daphne — to feel, along with her, how close she is to her wit's end. So, too, do we feel the relief of her unlikely friendship with the 92-year-old Alice, who briefly joins the duo, and whose unimaginable hardships push Daphne to take stock of her circumstances and figure out what she can do about them — in other words, to reckon with what she controls and what she doesn't. In heartrending prose, Kiesling weaves through an exploration of the political and the private, fear and love, survival and obligation, loneliness and longing.
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