Pochoda, Ivy. “Wonder Valley: A Novel”, Ecco Books, 2017.
Ivy Pochoda introduces us to six characters that are searching for hope and love in Los Angeles. Ren is just out of a juvenile correction institution and goes to L.A. to search for his mother. Owen and James are twins and in their teens. They live with their father in a commune in the desert where heir father who is a self-proclaimed healer influences his disciples. Britt shows up at the commune with a dark secret and Tony, a bored and unhappy lawyer has found inspiration in a naked runner among the traffic of the city. Blake is a drifter hiding in the desert. The lives of the six come together shockingly. This is a novel tat is filled with emotions— angst, violence, heartache, and yearning. Los Angeles is one of our most iconic, mesmerizing, and confounding cities and we get an entirely new look at it with all of its contradictions.
Our characters come together by circumstance at first but that soon changes as they stay together by the ties of revenge and love. It all starts in 2010 when a naked jogger runs opposite to the flow of traffic causing a major traffic jam. Along the way of developing the story, we see beautiful vistas of the West Coast and meet the people who drive the plot forward and who are searching for community and a way to connect to others. After all, that is what life is about. There are several subplots going on simultaneously and we move back and forth between the stories and time and place. We soon realize that we are seeing the human condition with all of its anger, beauty and joy. I was hooked on the first page and stayed hooked until the last page.