I was excited to win this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, because I'd read Michelle Richmond's The Year of Fog and really enjoyed it. The description for Golden State was intriguing, as the background event going on in the book is a vote by the residents of the state of California on whether or not to secede from the United States. I had no idea some Californians are actually proponents of this. I thought my state of Texas was the only one talking about it - although for many (but not all) different reasons.
The action in this story takes place on the day of the vote, June 15 of an unknown year. Protests and ensuing traffic jams provide the obstacles for Dr. Julie Walker, on her way from her soon-to-be-ex-husband Tom's radio station, to a small hotel near her employer, the San Francisco Veterans Administration hospital, to deliver her still-somewhat-estranged half-sister Heather's baby.
After a brief prologue (tied in nicely at the end of the book), the story starts around mid-day on June 15, when Julie has just arrived at the hotel. Her sister has barricaded herself in a room, as a crazy man - who knows Julie - is holding hostages across the parking lot in her hospital office.
The story then flashes back to about six hours earlier, near the beginning of Julie's day, when she gets a text from Heather. Additional chapters fill in the back stories about Julie and her relationships with Tom, Heather, and the crazy man, Dennis.
Early on, the reader learns that Julie and Tom lost a son, Ethan, and Julie blames Heather. Wanting to find out how and why (as well as the hostage situation) kept me reading, and I finished the book in one sitting.
There is one rather unbelievable plot point, and some issues are not resolved, but they are immaterial to the main story. Richmond does a masterful job creating suspense and developing her characters with realistic interactions that are tenderly described. Plus, she has a nice message to impart about life.
© Amanda Pape - 2013
[I received this advance reader's edition through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It will be passed on to someone else to enjoy.]