Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Wonder Valley (eBook)

Availability: Ready to download

Als ein Teenager aus der mysteriösen Heiler-Kommune seines Vaters in der Mojave-Wüste flüchtet, setzt er damit eine spektakuläre Reihe von Ereignissen in Gang, an deren Ende sich die Wege von mehreren Personen kreuzen, die allesamt ihrer Vergangenheit entfliehen wollen. Da ist der Mörder Ren, der in L. A. seine Mutter sucht, Britt, die ein dunkles Geheimnis mit sich trägt, Als ein Teenager aus der mysteriösen Heiler-Kommune seines Vaters in der Mojave-Wüste flüchtet, setzt er damit eine spektakuläre Reihe von Ereignissen in Gang, an deren Ende sich die Wege von mehreren Personen kreuzen, die allesamt ihrer Vergangenheit entfliehen wollen. Da ist der Mörder Ren, der in L. A. seine Mutter sucht, Britt, die ein dunkles Geheimnis mit sich trägt, Tony, ein unglücklicher Anwalt kurz vor dem Nervenzusammenbruch, und da sind die Gewalttäter Sam und Blake, die sich im Wonder Valley verstecken. Unter der gnadenlosen Sonne Kaliforniens knallen die Schicksale der verlorenen Seelen auf eine schockierende Weise aufeinander, wie es nur in dieser so betörenden wie gefährlichen Metropole möglich ist - ein mit visionärer literarischer Kraft geschriebenes Porträt von Los Angeles, eine Bestandsaufnahme der Hoffnungen unserer Gegenwart, aber auch ein Thriller voller Twists mit einem grandiosen Finale.


Compare
Ads Banner

Als ein Teenager aus der mysteriösen Heiler-Kommune seines Vaters in der Mojave-Wüste flüchtet, setzt er damit eine spektakuläre Reihe von Ereignissen in Gang, an deren Ende sich die Wege von mehreren Personen kreuzen, die allesamt ihrer Vergangenheit entfliehen wollen. Da ist der Mörder Ren, der in L. A. seine Mutter sucht, Britt, die ein dunkles Geheimnis mit sich trägt, Als ein Teenager aus der mysteriösen Heiler-Kommune seines Vaters in der Mojave-Wüste flüchtet, setzt er damit eine spektakuläre Reihe von Ereignissen in Gang, an deren Ende sich die Wege von mehreren Personen kreuzen, die allesamt ihrer Vergangenheit entfliehen wollen. Da ist der Mörder Ren, der in L. A. seine Mutter sucht, Britt, die ein dunkles Geheimnis mit sich trägt, Tony, ein unglücklicher Anwalt kurz vor dem Nervenzusammenbruch, und da sind die Gewalttäter Sam und Blake, die sich im Wonder Valley verstecken. Unter der gnadenlosen Sonne Kaliforniens knallen die Schicksale der verlorenen Seelen auf eine schockierende Weise aufeinander, wie es nur in dieser so betörenden wie gefährlichen Metropole möglich ist - ein mit visionärer literarischer Kraft geschriebenes Porträt von Los Angeles, eine Bestandsaufnahme der Hoffnungen unserer Gegenwart, aber auch ein Thriller voller Twists mit einem grandiosen Finale.

30 review for Wonder Valley (eBook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    remember when Visitation Street came out and the world was abuzz with ivy pochoda fever? it was during a particularly robust strain of brooklynophilia in the book biz, and my otherborough self was skeptical about the need for yet another paean to brooklyn, but it was such a phenomenal achievement, i ended up giving it a four star review on here.* and then not a peep out of her for four years. but if it takes four years to produce something this good, i’m willing to be patient. since Visitation St remember when Visitation Street came out and the world was abuzz with ivy pochoda fever? it was during a particularly robust strain of brooklynophilia in the book biz, and my otherborough self was skeptical about the need for yet another paean to brooklyn, but it was such a phenomenal achievement, i ended up giving it a four star review on here.* and then not a peep out of her for four years. but if it takes four years to produce something this good, i’m willing to be patient. since Visitation Street, pochoda switched coasts and now lives in L.A., and this book does for the skid row section of L.A. exactly what Visitation Street did for red hook - it’s a close look at a community; its inhabitants, its flavor, its practices and values, the unwritten laws operating within but also distinct from the larger city in which they live. but the novel’s branches stretch further outward and backwards, covering the lives of several characters whose fates will intersect (including one character from Visitation Street!!), and the choices and experiences that led them to this place, “now,” living on the streets on the outskirts of society. and it’s just gorgeous, thoughtful, brilliant, sublime. even better than Visitation Street. the commune parts reminded me of Arcadia, the overall sprawl and character intensity and overlap of A Visit from the Goon Squad and the “close look at an underserved community” of The Wire. i was thrilled to see that this was the book in my pagehabit box (although truth be told, i’d already gotten my hands on an arc, which i gave to greg. READ THIS, GREG!), because it’s so enriching to have her notes throughout** - it is like getting an inside look at what is already a very insider-feeling novel. and truth be told 2 (truths in paradise), this arrived about the same time as my debilitating illness (koff koff), and when i was lolling in my bed all feverish, considering my reading options, i pushed this one back a couple of times, because i knew i would want to have my wits about me if i was going to read anything even remotely literary, and could only handle medium-grade YA and breezy adult thrillers. but i wanted to want to read it, so eventually i decided to see if i could handle reading something i’d actually have to think about, and i ended up devouring about 3/4 of it in one sitting (lolling), staying up until dawn fueled by nothing but canned peaches and the need to stay immersed in this world and her words. it is easily one of my favorite reads of the year, and while i would wait another four years to read more from her, i really hope i don’t have to. * i gave the book four stars - the review was probably a three. although the link to the ramones song might bring it up to a three-and-a-half. ** including this note that explains why she chose Book of Longing as one of the companion books in this month's box: I was lucky enough to have had dinner with Leonard Cohen while writing this book. He inspired me. which does not make me jealous AT ALL. except for a lot, even though i had my own encounter with the much-missed troubadour. but still. we did not feast together. hhmph. ********************************************** review to come, but DAMN. damn. ********************************************** my new quarterly literary fiction box from pagehabit has arrived!! so many treasures! i am going to dive into this super-soon. there's no explanation about why pochoda chose her book's buddies, and i'm kind of hoping that the leonard cohen book has nothing to do with her own and is just there because this month marks the one-year anniversary of his death, and she's mourning along with me. come to my blog!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    A man is running down the Hollywood freeway, he is completely nude, seemingly without a care in the world. As the cars sit in the usual crawling traffic, another man, a man on impulse will leave his car sitting in traffic and take off running, following the naked man. This is the beginning of this novel, which will take us from the streets of Los Angeles, to skid row and out to a desert commune with a divergent group of characters. THey are lost souls, trying to escape either something the have d A man is running down the Hollywood freeway, he is completely nude, seemingly without a care in the world. As the cars sit in the usual crawling traffic, another man, a man on impulse will leave his car sitting in traffic and take off running, following the naked man. This is the beginning of this novel, which will take us from the streets of Los Angeles, to skid row and out to a desert commune with a divergent group of characters. THey are lost souls, trying to escape either something the have done, or do not understand where their lives took a wrong turn, hopeful still that they can turn it around. Gritty and powerful story telling at its best. Street people and the fierce way they guard their spots, try to look out for each there. A commune run by a man who says he has answers, a healer of the physche, a married man with two twin teenage sons. Two drifters, with a capacity for violence and a man who can't escape a past mistake. All will come together, their stories converge in strange ways. All want to survive, to thrive though all will not be given the chance. For those squeamish about the killing of chickens, though they are killed for food, I suggest skimming chapter four. Other than that I found this book to be wonderfully written, a dark yet hopeful street read. It reminded me in tone and feeling of Gold Fame Citrus, though this is contemporary and not post apocalyptic. ARC from book browse.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    I finished reading this feeling emotionally battered and entranced by Ivy Pochoda's raw, intelligent, complex imaginative and multilayered storytelling with its gripping picture of contemporary Los Angeles. This is an intense literary read, gritty, immersive and memorable. On a usual packed commute, interest is caught by the slightly surreal sight of a completely naked young man running on a LA freeway, apparently indifferent to those around him, making the local news and attracting the attentio I finished reading this feeling emotionally battered and entranced by Ivy Pochoda's raw, intelligent, complex imaginative and multilayered storytelling with its gripping picture of contemporary Los Angeles. This is an intense literary read, gritty, immersive and memorable. On a usual packed commute, interest is caught by the slightly surreal sight of a completely naked young man running on a LA freeway, apparently indifferent to those around him, making the local news and attracting the attention of the police. Who is he? Is he running to or away from something? One man chooses to abandon his car, and runs too, the naked man triggers reaction in a motley collection of disparate characters, desperate to escape their circumstances. In a non-linear narrative from 2006 and 2010, this novel makes for bleak and dark reading but with an underlying hope. All the characters are looking for escape, from regrets, destitution, loneliness, a cult, poor decisionmaking and more. Their spirits are crushed, are emotionally damaged, alone and desperate, with lives that have spiralled out of control. Not all of them are likeable yet somehow Pochoda elicits our sympathies for them. The author gives us a remarkable depiction of street life and language, of flawed humanity, and people whose lives begin to connect and converge in a tightly plotted and beautifully written unconventional novel. This may not be a read for everyone, but it is one that worked for me. I found it insightful, thought provoking, heartbreaking, with superb characterisation and utterly compelling. I look forward to what Ivy Pochoda writes next. Many thanks to Alex and Indigo Press for an ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    It’s morning rush hour on LA’s Highway 110 and there’s a naked runner dashing between traffic, making his way to who knows where. As car radios feed updates to commuters and helicopter spotters fly overhead some, sat in their cars, see the runner. One even decides to abandon his car and give chase. In this way we are introduced to a number of people who are to feature later in the book. This is a story of Los Angeles people but it’s also a story of others – mainly poor, damaged people - who rove It’s morning rush hour on LA’s Highway 110 and there’s a naked runner dashing between traffic, making his way to who knows where. As car radios feed updates to commuters and helicopter spotters fly overhead some, sat in their cars, see the runner. One even decides to abandon his car and give chase. In this way we are introduced to a number of people who are to feature later in the book. This is a story of Los Angeles people but it’s also a story of others – mainly poor, damaged people - who rove around the surrounding area, the desert and the beach. In a complex non-linear narrative, events continually switch between 2006 and 2010. In addition, we follow a decent sized cast of characters, each with their own storyline playing out. The stories will eventually converge but in the meantime you certainly need your wits about you to stay on top of it all. Some of the characters we meet include: - Britt: a college tennis player who seems to be running from someone or something - Blake and Sam: a drug dealer and a murderer travelling on foot across the desert - James and Owen: twin brothers who live with their parents as part of a strange cult - Tony: a lawyer who is disenchanted with his career and with life in general - Ren: a young man recently released from an eight-year spell in juvenile lock-up Everyone is unhappy, stressed and looking for something else. Guilty consciences abound. The dialogue is excellent and as I became familiar with the various players I did become invested in their outcome – though some more than others. It’s a very atmospheric piece too and I’d have to say that the writing is first rate throughout. If I have a quibble at all about the book it’s that it’s a complicated story told in a complicated way. Also, the final outcome does stretch the imagination in terms of the number of coincidences needed to allow it all to come together so neatly. But these are really relatively minor complaints as in reality I absolutely gobbled this book up in the course of a few days. Four and a half stars, rounded up to five. Ivy Pochada is certainly a talent and I’ll be seeking out more of her work. My sincere thanks to Alex at The Indigo Press for supplying a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !! ”All the lonely people Where do they all come from? All the lonely people Where do they all belong?” Eleanor Rigby – John Lennon / Paul McCartney Shock Value. Violence. Overcrowded freeways, overcrowded lives. Living on the edge, physically, mentally, financially, and what follows when they break away. Life beyond the edge, beyond rules. The man runs down the freeway, he has shed all but his skin and his inner self, running as though he is not surrounded by cars stuck in yet anoth !! NOW AVAILABLE !! ”All the lonely people Where do they all come from? All the lonely people Where do they all belong?” Eleanor Rigby – John Lennon / Paul McCartney Shock Value. Violence. Overcrowded freeways, overcrowded lives. Living on the edge, physically, mentally, financially, and what follows when they break away. Life beyond the edge, beyond rules. The man runs down the freeway, he has shed all but his skin and his inner self, running as though he is not surrounded by cars stuck in yet another 7 a.m. traffic jam in L.A., but rather free from it all, free of all cares. He is naked, and it’s 2010, cellphones with cameras abound, so it becomes news, of course. ”He is almost beautiful—running with the San Gabriels over one shoulder, the rise of the Hollywood Freeway as it arcs above the Pasadena Freeway over the other. He is shirtless, the hint of swimmer’s muscle rippling below his tanned skin, his arms pumping in a one-two rhythm in sync with the beat of his feet. There is a chance you envy him.” Inside one of those cars sits another man, a man who missed his hour run that morning, and is flexing his calves, wishing that missed hour back. He undoes his seatbelt, opens his door, leaves his keys and begins to run, trying to catch up with the naked runner. East of Los Angeles, west of Phoenix, north of Joshua Tree National Park is Wonder Valley. It’s hot and arid, a parched landscape, relatively unpopulated, but enjoys the benefit of proximity to Joshua Tree, with mini versions of Vegas found in surrounding places. A mish-mash of buildings, private land and Bureau of Land Management property, with no evidence of modern day planning, or any thought for what goes where, populated by eclectic residents, artists, low-income / retirees, people seeking peace, quiet, and an escape from the desire for more of everything. Twentynine Palms, home of Howling Tree Ranch, is about a 14 mile drive across desert away from Wonder Valley. Howling Tree Ranch is owned by Grace and Patrick, a married couple with twin teenaged sons, James and Owen. The ranch is a commune, of sorts, a gathering of young people who have come searching for a new life, a new way of life. Answers. Life in the desert, an arid wasteland, populated by those seeking “The Truth,” seeking redemption, seeking a path to the future and a way to leave their pasts behind. They want to shed their former selves, be free of all that has encumbered them, and leave all that has defined them to those who still inhabit their past. In exchange, these young people become interns to Grace and Patrick, but it’s Patrick, with his wisdom and healing, who they seek. This alternates between these places, Los Angeles, Wonder Valley and Twentynine Palms, with two time frames, and through the eyes of various characters. The year 2006 in Wonder Valley and Twentynine Palms, and 2010 in Los Angeles. I loved the way all of these characters and their stories came together, tantalizingly measured, with Pochoda showing us why and how these individuals ended up living these lives so far from customary or conventional. And, once again, she has given me an ending I did not see coming until it was unfolding before me. We can’t imagine all that those we don’t know have been through, all that they’ve survived, or know those things that have crushed their souls. How one small, seemingly innocent move could be the beginning of the fall of a house of cards, how one small step in the wrong direction leads to a lifetime lived in fear, steeped with regrets, or shame, with no home or family to turn to, no help in sight. No way out. Of note: For those squeamish about such things, there is a chapter that deals with a chicken slaughter (Chapter 4), which you might want to skim over. For those who prefer their novels with as little profanity as possible, this might push your buttons as there are segments where it’s sprinkled more liberally than others, however it didn’t bother me, and I felt it was used realistically. Pub Date: 18 Oct 2017 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Harper Collins / Ecco

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    I wanted to like this book because I love a gritty Los Angeles novel. There are so many perspectives on this city and I am always curious to see how different writers imagine it. Pochoda is an excellent writer. She is really good, perhaps too good at creating atmosphere. Whether in downtown LA, Beverly Glen, or the California desert, she captures a vivid sense of place and the people who inhabit that place. But this is a fairly one-dimensional view of LA. Is this city as bleak as it is portrayed I wanted to like this book because I love a gritty Los Angeles novel. There are so many perspectives on this city and I am always curious to see how different writers imagine it. Pochoda is an excellent writer. She is really good, perhaps too good at creating atmosphere. Whether in downtown LA, Beverly Glen, or the California desert, she captures a vivid sense of place and the people who inhabit that place. But this is a fairly one-dimensional view of LA. Is this city as bleak as it is portrayed here? Yes, but it’s also a lot more. Then again, a novel doesn’t need to capture the whole truth. It needs to capture a truth. I suppose I question how well this captures a truth. Everyone is deeply tan, weather beaten, lean and ropy, etc,, with few exceptions. So much loving attention is paid to showing how worn down by the landscape these characters are that not enough attention is paid to the story itself. This is one of those stories where there are a bunch of different characters who are somehow connected but the connections are just… really forced. For one of the characters, Tony, the connection is overly situational and tenuous. His existential ennui is somewhat clichéd--the overextended middle class man. Okay. We get it. Everything is hardscrabble and terrible and after a while it becomes numbing. When the novel ended, I felt deflated but not because I had been so affected by the book but more because I felt so disaffected. The ending was something of a letdown after so much build up. But still, I did keep reading. I do admire the writing, the characterization, the way this book feels so thoroughly inhabited.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “This your story too?” “Not really, but I’d like to know how it ends.” Those of you who know me know that I have a serious and debilitating case of old lady brain . . . . So the fact that I remembered Ivy Pochoda’s name after first reading one of her books nearly FOUR YEARS AGO is basically a miracle from the Baby Jeebus. However, in case any of you are now concerned that this is a marker of the end of days, have no fear. I am, after Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “This your story too?” “Not really, but I’d like to know how it ends.” Those of you who know me know that I have a serious and debilitating case of old lady brain . . . . So the fact that I remembered Ivy Pochoda’s name after first reading one of her books nearly FOUR YEARS AGO is basically a miracle from the Baby Jeebus. However, in case any of you are now concerned that this is a marker of the end of days, have no fear. I am, after all, the braintrust who compared Pochoda’s writing to that of Dennis Lehane in Visitation Street without bothering to pay any attention at all to it being HE who published that book in the first place . . . . Wonder Valley is different from Visitation Street as there is no real “mystery” to be solved (unless the reader categorizes genres so loosely that uncovering who the naked runner on the 110 freeway at the very start of the book is enough to qualify as one). Rather this is the narrative of Britt and Ren and Blake and James and Tony which takes place in both 2006 and 2010 as their lives intertwine (or intertwine again, as the case may be). The setting is both at a “religious cult” (the term used as loosely as possible) in the before as well as Skid Row in the now and if you haven’t experienced Ivy Pochoda’s writing before, it goes a little something like this . . . . Believe me when I say before I began I was a little terrified my expectations were set too high so I had to repeat the following mantra in my head . . . . I’m happy to report my second go ‘round with this author was not a failure. Now, I can’t say this will work for others the way it did for me, but boy oh boy did it work for me. I will admit that in addition to Pochoda’s ability to paint a scene without ever becoming purple or too verbose, partial credit also has to go to my complete and utter fascination (and simultaneous horror) with Skid Row. In case you aren’t familiar, here is a tiny glimpse of what it looks like . . . . An ever-growing community within downtown Los Angeles of homeless people that consist of not only the mentally ill, drug addicted and criminal elements, but thanks to rising housing prices and not-rising wages, Average Joes who simply can’t afford their rent. Pochoda did a magnificent job of putting the reader in the middle of the tent city. So much so, in fact, that when reading while riding the elevator to the parking garage from the high heights of the floor I work on I was completely transplanted and sort of had to “shake myself out of it” when the doors opened and I was back on terra firma. 4 Stars rather than 5 because I wasn’t as invested in Twentynine Palms – mainly because I wanted more information. Still, a completely enrapturing tale for me with an ever-so-simple message . . . . “We all make mistakes. It doesn’t mean we should be denied a few graces.” Pochoda writes . . . . “If you stick around long enough, you’ll learn quick that your story is the only thing you have that belongs to you proper.” I’m so happy that I have discovered hers. Now . . . . When I show up at your front door requesting you please write something new real quick for me in fear that my C.R.S. Disorder will rear its ugly head before your next book is released.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    It took me a while to get into this story but when I did I enjoyed it immensely. I will certainly be on the lookout for more books by this author in the future.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abbie | ab_reads

    Thank you so much to @indigopress for sending me what turned out to be one of my favourite books of 2018! Isn’t it wonderful when you don’t really have any expectations for a book and it comes along and completely blows you away? I accepted the request to work with Indigo Books reviewing their releases because I liked their mission statement, they are a new company and I wanted to help out, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the authors... And gosh was I happily surprised! . Ivy Pochoda i Thank you so much to @indigopress for sending me what turned out to be one of my favourite books of 2018! Isn’t it wonderful when you don’t really have any expectations for a book and it comes along and completely blows you away? I accepted the request to work with Indigo Books reviewing their releases because I liked their mission statement, they are a new company and I wanted to help out, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the authors... And gosh was I happily surprised! . Ivy Pochoda is blessed with the ability to transport her reader totally to the scene she is describing. I’ve never set foot in America in my life, let alone LA, and yet I felt like I knew the city intimately by the time I finished Wonder Valley. I felt like I could feel the restless energy of downtown, I could smell the dust and the sand of the desert, I could hear the sounds of the well kept suburbs. Every time I picked it up I was immersed instantly! . Wonder Valley follows the lives of six characters, as their lives begin to intertwine in ways they could have never predicted, all with their own secrets, burdens and anxieties. I LOVE stories with interweaving characters & storylines, so this was like heaven for me! I thought each one was compelling in its own way, but my favourite was Ren, and his struggle to readjust to society after years spent in juvenile detention, find his mother, and then adapt to life on the streets. Such powerful stuff. . If THAT wasn’t enough, there’s also basically a cult. We all love a good cult, right? I don’t know if this book will be for everybody but I could 100% say that it is for me, and I loved every page!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    This tale starts the pace with a retrospective look on one morning in suburbia stuck in traffic whilst man running in a kind suit or lack of suit. Some fine writing within, in the thick of that first scene and has you hooked in the need to know, the undoing of the scene how did the tale get to that timeline in all the wonder. Over the timeline of 24 hours there are many journeyings in Los Angeles starting with the bizarre one of a man running to or from something, then the chapter shifts to anothe This tale starts the pace with a retrospective look on one morning in suburbia stuck in traffic whilst man running in a kind suit or lack of suit. Some fine writing within, in the thick of that first scene and has you hooked in the need to know, the undoing of the scene how did the tale get to that timeline in all the wonder. Over the timeline of 24 hours there are many journeyings in Los Angeles starting with the bizarre one of a man running to or from something, then the chapter shifts to another time line 4 years past in a middle of nowhere desert with all sort of rituals and possible tomfoolery with a motley crew of eager interns with father mother and two sons as lead. Journeys, findings, doings and undoings and mystery in the mix of it all with crafted showing and revealing, keeping the reader on in tow, and like a magician the author careful unravels and let’s some things out some names, connecting dots, connect things visible and invisible connect. Memorable reading of a retrospective observations of downtown/suburbia/desert/wonder valley sometime present sometime nowhere in the vastness of the desert something propelled. review with excerpts @ https://more2read.com/review/wonder-valley-ivy-pochoda/

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    You know you have discovered a truly talented author when they can instantly transport you to a place you have never encountered before, and that is exactly what happened to me here. The setting of Los Angeles is one that may be immediately recognisable thanks in part to various television programmes, however, Ms Pochoda's tale is about the side of LA that is rarely seen and certainly not advertised on TV. The city setting has been made one of the major characters in this wonderful novel. The si You know you have discovered a truly talented author when they can instantly transport you to a place you have never encountered before, and that is exactly what happened to me here. The setting of Los Angeles is one that may be immediately recognisable thanks in part to various television programmes, however, Ms Pochoda's tale is about the side of LA that is rarely seen and certainly not advertised on TV. The city setting has been made one of the major characters in this wonderful novel. The sights, smells and sounds are vivid, so much so that I felt as though I was there. Besides the setting, the author does a sterling job of creating well-rounded characters that are interesting, very different from one another and whose stories intertwining threads come together seamlessly towards the back end of the book. Despite it being from the genre I tend to read most, it was unlike anything I have ever read before, and I was an emotional wreck throughout this compelling, immersive, complex and intense contemporary thriller. Although classified as literary fiction, it remains gritty and true to the crime genre, albeit with added intelligence and an imaginative multi-layered mystery. Pochoda is a master storyteller, with exquisite prose, exploration of our dark desires and memorable characters, this is a thoroughly unputdownable treat which at its core, is a study of the fallibility of humanity and our trials and tribulations, ruminations and regrets. I look forward to what Pochoda produces in the future! Many thanks to Alex at The Indigo Press for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thought and opinions expressed are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alena

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. It had great ingredients: deep, dark intersecting characters, shifting perspectives, movements in time and cold, hard truths. This is like no LA story I’ve ever read...no glitz, more down, out and lost; it was a fascinating portrait of the other side. But the characters never hooked me. I could relate to their search and their guilt but no one ever lived up to the books opening scene of a naked runner on the freeway. Well-written but unsatisfying.

  13. 4 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    As a gift from the library universe, my library hold for Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda became available during the December holidays, and I had downtime to spend reading. The book opens with a man running naked through rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles, drawing police and television reporters in hot pursuit. I thought, this book has potential to show what we're living with here in LA. Multiple characters whose lives are interwoven represent different parts of Southern California society: t As a gift from the library universe, my library hold for Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda became available during the December holidays, and I had downtime to spend reading. The book opens with a man running naked through rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles, drawing police and television reporters in hot pursuit. I thought, this book has potential to show what we're living with here in LA. Multiple characters whose lives are interwoven represent different parts of Southern California society: the seekers in the desert, the destitute on Skid Row, and the self-absorbed from the Westside. Just as when Angelinos discover that the subject of a newspaper story is a co-worker's cousin, or the middle school music teacher who used to play with a famous pop band, Wonder Valley's characters come to learn of the connections that bind them together, even as those connections might be deadly. Pochoda further segments the narrative into two time streams: 2006 in the high desert community of Wonder Valley and 2010 in the City of Los Angeles. In 2006, a self-awareness commune explores truth and spiritual enlightenment, only to come into conflict when the commune is compromised by both inside rebellion and vile trespassers. In 2010, the loose ends remaining from the demise of the Wonder Valley community knit back together on Los Angeles' Skid Row and other downtown neighborhoods. It takes some effort on behalf of the reader, which is richly rewarded, to follow the many characters’ stories across the two time settings, but transformation is the common theme. Characters organize around spiritual beliefs, criminal pursuits, family love, and none of the circumstances endures, nor are they meant to. Settlements in Wonder Valley or on Skid Row are not permanent. Relationships in the high desert and westward prove to be conditional and transactional, even when lives are at stake. When I first heard of the book, Wonder Valley, I thought, ok, another book about Southern California by an East Coast writer. It will have the usual cliches of dreams pursued then dashed, an ugly duckling blooms into an elegant swan, a teenage outcast is transformed into the creator of the next tech unicorn. Class, ethnic and race differences will be explored, contrasted, and in some small closing scene, reconciled in a manner that eases the general social discomfort that arose as the differences were exposed. Wonder Valley is satisfyingly fresh even as the LA neighborhood settings are familiar. After finishing the book, I wanted to learn how Pochoda could so clearly portray our Los Angeles people without reaching for cliches. I read that she had spent some years here in the city, and the final answer came by turning back to the book’s dedication page: To the writers and artists in the LAMP Arts Program, a Skid Row “housing first” community. Reviewed by Linda Rudell-Betts, Senior Librarian, Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kjo1984

    Didn't have high hopes for this book but it ended up surprising me! Weaves together a cast of characters around LA after opening with a naked man running down the freeway in rush hour. Like how this showed the gritty, skid-row side of LA, not the mansions and boutiques of the 1%.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Davidson

    Six lost characters find their way as their stories converge during one man's streaking on a California highway. Basically all of these character's are running from something in their past towards new lives they just can't seem to grasp. Britt tries to escape a world of college partying and disappoint but ends up on a chicken farm in the middle of a desert. Twins Owen and James dream of leaving the hippy compound where their father is a mystical healer. Blake is on the run with his buddy Sam as Six lost characters find their way as their stories converge during one man's streaking on a California highway. Basically all of these character's are running from something in their past towards new lives they just can't seem to grasp. Britt tries to escape a world of college partying and disappoint but ends up on a chicken farm in the middle of a desert. Twins Owen and James dream of leaving the hippy compound where their father is a mystical healer. Blake is on the run with his buddy Sam as the two criminals try to make their way out of one problem and into the next. Ren is newly released from juvie and crosses the country to look for his runaway mother. Tony feels stuck and wishes he was as free as the naked running man he witnesses on his way to work. Eventually, all of these characters come together on their journey in an interesting way to find their way in life. I only wish it happened sooner. This is one of those books where you really like the overall effect of the book when you've finished reading, but you still remember the first half of the book when you sat there wondering when something was ever going to happen. First, not every character has an interesting and relatable story line, so there are some chapters you are trying to get through to finally end up on a character you do like. And the characters are not all people you feel like you are "rooting for" as you read. There's no sense of attachment or care about whether or not they really will find their way or solve their problems. The first hundred pages or so is a lot of exposition that readers will have to make their way through to finally get to some of the interesting connections and overlaps. And finally, I feel like I would be more forgiving of the novel overall if it weren't for the fact that this was a (hopefully) unedited advance copy of the work. It was very rare to find a chapter that didn't have a handful of spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes that made the experience way more frustrating than it needed to be. For example, in a novel of dual timelines in 2006 and 2010, there's a random mislabeled 1994 chapter (#27) that is obviously still in 2006. These little moments end up having a big effect for detail-oriented readers like myself. I'm assuming a cleaner publication would put me in a better peace of mind when reading in order to overlook some of my previously mentioned criticisms. This is one of those books where you finish it, go back to the beginning of the novel, reread the first chapter, and say, "Ah, I see what you did there. Well done." However, in order to appreciate the work overall, you first need to make it to the interesting chapters towards the end.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Sullivan

    This started out strong, with a man running inexplicably naked down an LA freeway during rush hour traffic and an introduction to the several people who are connected to the bizarre incident: Tony, a listless married lawyer; Britt, who escaped her past by running away to a commune; Ren, fresh out of juvie and searching for his mother. It's clear that these characters' paths will intersect (or in some cases already have), and Wonder Valley weaves between their separate yet connected storylines. Sto This started out strong, with a man running inexplicably naked down an LA freeway during rush hour traffic and an introduction to the several people who are connected to the bizarre incident: Tony, a listless married lawyer; Britt, who escaped her past by running away to a commune; Ren, fresh out of juvie and searching for his mother. It's clear that these characters' paths will intersect (or in some cases already have), and Wonder Valley weaves between their separate yet connected storylines. Stories like this can be so hit or miss, and Wonder Valley falls into the latter category. It tries so hard to be smart and layered and profound, but it never transcends its own shallow banality. Pochoda's prose is fine, yet it often feels manufactured. The connections between the characters are forced and lack the nuance that would make a story like this successful. I sped through this book to get it over with.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This was a pretty good read that I discovered on my very first cruise in the Carnival Fantasy Cruise ship's library. It is about a man who is arrested for chasing a naked man through the Streets of LA and the events that happen before it that had to do with a cult and more. Definitely check this book out for yourself. It is available at your local library and anywhere books are sold.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hirt

    Although I enjoyed the ability the author provided for the reader to step into the seamy side of LA and the desert, I could not get pulled into the characters. A bit of a trudge to stick with it. I wanted so much for it to be engaging.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lark Benobi

    When I began to read I thought, oh great, here's a writer like T.C. Boyle, only female and young. Then it turned into a whole lotta blah-blah. Someone will like it though.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    He is almost beautiful--running with the San Gabriels over one shoulder, the rise of the Hollywood Freeway as it arcs above the Pasadena Freeway over the other. He is shirtless, the hint of swimmer's muscle rippling below his tanned skin, his arms pumping in a one-two rhythm in sync with the beat of his feet. There is a chance you envy him. * * * His expression is midmarathon serene, focused on the goal and not yet overwhelmed by the distance. He shows no strain. But the woman in the battered so He is almost beautiful--running with the San Gabriels over one shoulder, the rise of the Hollywood Freeway as it arcs above the Pasadena Freeway over the other. He is shirtless, the hint of swimmer's muscle rippling below his tanned skin, his arms pumping in a one-two rhythm in sync with the beat of his feet. There is a chance you envy him. * * * His expression is midmarathon serene, focused on the goal and not yet overwhelmed by the distance. He shows no strain. But the woman in the battered soft-top convertible will say he looked drugged. The man in a souped-up hatchback claims he was crazy-high, totally loco, you know what I mean. A couple of teenage girls driving an SUV way beyond their pay grade insist that, although they barely noticed him, he looked like a superhero, but not one of the cool ones. This is a book about running away. We won't figure out until later in the book who the naked runner is or what he's running from, but we quickly meet a cast of other runners. Tony, who gets out of his car and follows the naked runner, is running from his high-pressure life as a lawyer, father, and husband, who never quite measures up to anyone's standards. Britt, who we meet four years earlier, is running from a past that she won't reveal until later, and finds herself in the midst of a bizarre cult/chicken farm commune. Blake and Sam, characters who would fit into any grit lit novel, are running from the long arm of the law, while Blake tries to outrun the violence that always follows them. Owen, son of cult leader/chicken farmer Patrick, is running away from the chaos that his life has become since moving to the desert. His twin brother, James, would like to run back to L.A. with his mom. Ren has traveled across the country in search of his mother, Laila, who ran away to California while he was in juvie in New York. As the story jumps back and forth between 2010 stories of Tony and Ren and the 2006 stories of Britt at the Howling Tree Ranch and Blake and Sam traversing the desert, the connections between all of these disparate runners are slowly revealed in a symphony of the desperate and downtrodden. Some of these characters do despicable things in their attempts at flight, but Ms. Pochoda manages to stir at least a tiny bit of sympathy even for the worst of them. And the more innocent among them will break your heart. Read by book group, August 2019.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mainlinebooker

    Written with raw energy and palpable emotion, this gritty novel covers the disappearance of a teenage boy twin who runs away from his father's "spiritual" commune like structure, leading to exposing the stories of several other characters who are enterwined with one another.The story begins with a naked runner running down the California freeway with and against the traffic. A terrific hook to get the reader wanting to explore the mystery of his mission. Is he mentally disturbed? Does anyone kno Written with raw energy and palpable emotion, this gritty novel covers the disappearance of a teenage boy twin who runs away from his father's "spiritual" commune like structure, leading to exposing the stories of several other characters who are enterwined with one another.The story begins with a naked runner running down the California freeway with and against the traffic. A terrific hook to get the reader wanting to explore the mystery of his mission. Is he mentally disturbed? Does anyone know him? From here ,other parallel stories are told which end up intersecting with his. The author had an uncanny ability to describe life on the streets, including memorable dialects and character portrayals that made me thoroughly enjoy her easy writing style. Its simplicity belies the difficulty of writing this prose. A moving story that illustrates the desperation and uncovering of the need to follow what you think is your course in life only to find that perhaps it has been in a different direction all along.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Bylin

    How do you rate a book when it's a strong story and beautifully written, but you didn't enjoy reading it? For that reason I'm averaging 5 for quality and 1 for enjoyment. That leads to a 3, but the book really deserves that 5--and the 1. The writing is poetic and lyrical. The Los Angeles / Southern California setting is vivid. The characters come alive. I wanted to know how it ended. But the story didn't speak to my heart at all. All I could think was, "Those poor people . . . " I felt the same How do you rate a book when it's a strong story and beautifully written, but you didn't enjoy reading it? For that reason I'm averaging 5 for quality and 1 for enjoyment. That leads to a 3, but the book really deserves that 5--and the 1. The writing is poetic and lyrical. The Los Angeles / Southern California setting is vivid. The characters come alive. I wanted to know how it ended. But the story didn't speak to my heart at all. All I could think was, "Those poor people . . . " I felt the same way when I read Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone. That, too, was a , compelling story that left me saying, "But there's another way to live, other choices to make. You don't have to let people and events define you." I'm glad I read Wonder Valley. It's good to break out of the box and be reminded of other perspectives, plus the prose really was compelling.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michele Harrison

    I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I was so excited about this book and it started off strong with intriguing characters and a mysterious incident involving a man running naked down the 110 in Los Angeles, but before long the plot wore thin and tedious. Although there was a lot of backstory on each of the characters leading to how their lives were eventually intertwined, I felt I was never able to connect with any of them. The way the chapters skip back and forth between 2006 and I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I was so excited about this book and it started off strong with intriguing characters and a mysterious incident involving a man running naked down the 110 in Los Angeles, but before long the plot wore thin and tedious. Although there was a lot of backstory on each of the characters leading to how their lives were eventually intertwined, I felt I was never able to connect with any of them. The way the chapters skip back and forth between 2006 and 2010 was interesting at first, but eventually seemed more like the book was written out of order than anything. I found myself struggling to get through, hoping it would all come together in the final chapters. In the end, the conclusion was less than satisfying, seeming as though the author simply gave up.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Bashore

    I received this book as an ARC from Book of the Month, but in no way was my opinion influenced. This book was so wonderful. Set in current L.A it sort of gives you that Lalaland feel ( except gritty and less music). The setting is gritty and completely believable. The story weaves through our main characters lives past and present, and leaves use with a journey that helps you debate what it means to be a good person, how events can grip your life and run your head-space, and also leaves you just I received this book as an ARC from Book of the Month, but in no way was my opinion influenced. This book was so wonderful. Set in current L.A it sort of gives you that Lalaland feel ( except gritty and less music). The setting is gritty and completely believable. The story weaves through our main characters lives past and present, and leaves use with a journey that helps you debate what it means to be a good person, how events can grip your life and run your head-space, and also leaves you just contemplating your own self. Definitely worth reading, if you aren't into the sadness and absurdity of the story at least you'll be pulled into the vivid character experiences. (Also side note, lately I feel like all my good books/tv shows deal with twins, what is up with that?)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    I liked the writing, the settings, the grit, and most of all how the stories intertwined. I was not connected to any of the characters or particularly rooting for them. But good storytelling. A good solid 3 stars for me, I liked it overall. I would read another of this author's work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Do you remember that movie 2 Days in the Valley that sprang up almost immediately after Pulp Fiction became a hit, hoping to capitalize on its unique storytelling mode? Wonder Valley reminds me of that movie. I would not have read this book if I had not won a copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. I read Ms. Pochoda's Visitation Street a few years ago and though there is no doubt she can write, I was not impressed with the story or her characters, which I hated. The same holds true for Wonder Valley. It Do you remember that movie 2 Days in the Valley that sprang up almost immediately after Pulp Fiction became a hit, hoping to capitalize on its unique storytelling mode? Wonder Valley reminds me of that movie. I would not have read this book if I had not won a copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. I read Ms. Pochoda's Visitation Street a few years ago and though there is no doubt she can write, I was not impressed with the story or her characters, which I hated. The same holds true for Wonder Valley. It opens with a funny premise, a naked man is seen running on the clogged LA freeway one morning and as people watch with amusement or boredom, readers are taken back in time to explain how this man got to where he was. We have the middled aged father who hates his job, and most likely, his wife as well. There is Ren, a delinquent straight out of juvie, who comes to LA looking for his deadbeat mother. He makes a promise to himself to stick to the straight and narrow but its hard when life constantly beats you down and leaves you few choices to choose from. Ren was the only character I liked. Then we have the runaway brat from a privileged life who can't go back to who she used to be because she's a coward and unable to hold herself accountable for her actions. The twins, James and Owen, whose father, is a creepy, New-Age-y preacher who is too busy adultering and nothing more than your standard cliche. We have two felons who become, unwittingly, tangled up with all the characters above, because one bad choice leads to many and all decisions have consequences. The author can write, I just wish she would write something more...engaging. I didn't like any of the characters, much less the story. There was nothing of value about any of the characters, except for Ren, who seemed the most sincere and genuine in wanting to do something with his life and help his mother, despite her being a deadbeat. All these characters have made irrevocable decisions with life altering consequences but nearly all of them, with the exception of Ren, fail to hold themselves accountable for their actions. Perhaps that's the point. Not many people ever own up to their mistakes. That's life. Sometimes, we just want to run naked on the freeway and say 'To hell with everyone' and that's good enough for most of us. But not good enough to warrant two stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ann Tonks

    This was a random choice from my local library and i was completely mesmerized. It's dense, dark, layered, sad, hearfelt.....the adjectives could go on and on. It was full of people I don't know. Homeless people; cult people; violent people. I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about the USA and we both concluded Arthur Miller was right all those decades ago with "Death of Salesman". The country feels as if its collapsing and this is a story about that collapse. There are still som This was a random choice from my local library and i was completely mesmerized. It's dense, dark, layered, sad, hearfelt.....the adjectives could go on and on. It was full of people I don't know. Homeless people; cult people; violent people. I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about the USA and we both concluded Arthur Miller was right all those decades ago with "Death of Salesman". The country feels as if its collapsing and this is a story about that collapse. There are still some wonderfully redeeming characters and moments - but not many of them. A great book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ilyssa Wesche

    This book really surprised me - for some reason I was expecting some straight-up literary fiction about the slightly-wealthy/young & beautiful in LA, and that is NOT what I got. Which turned out to be awesome! I was surprised to check my list to see I read her previous book, but then I remembered it - same kind of characters but a better story. However, I experienced the same kind of surprise last time - it was on the Dennis Lehane imprint but it was not a mystery by any stretch of the imagi This book really surprised me - for some reason I was expecting some straight-up literary fiction about the slightly-wealthy/young & beautiful in LA, and that is NOT what I got. Which turned out to be awesome! I was surprised to check my list to see I read her previous book, but then I remembered it - same kind of characters but a better story. However, I experienced the same kind of surprise last time - it was on the Dennis Lehane imprint but it was not a mystery by any stretch of the imagination. All that said, this book pushed every one of my "loved this book" buttons: down and out characters, with various issues/addictions? Check. Shitty circumstances with sometimes ambiguous yet always satisfactory endings? Check. More than one "holy shit!" moments? Check. Lots of plot lines coming together in surprising but fitting ways? Check. This had me thinking a lot about communes/cults in the desert and also about Skid Row, and how different both are from my own home in suburban NJ, with more people per square inch than any other state in the country. Just thinking about all that land in the desert kind of creeps me out. Parts were a little too much for squeamish me, but that's my own problem.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary Holstein

    From the first page of this wonderful new novel, Ivy Pochoda draws the reader into her world of contemporary Los Angeles and the area of the Mojave Desert known as Wonder Valley. While the characters are first introduced in a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes, as the book progresses, the author skillfully merges their stories to intersect and intertwine. This group is from the seamier side of life--living each day under the radar and just trying to survive. I came away with a sense of wond From the first page of this wonderful new novel, Ivy Pochoda draws the reader into her world of contemporary Los Angeles and the area of the Mojave Desert known as Wonder Valley. While the characters are first introduced in a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes, as the book progresses, the author skillfully merges their stories to intersect and intertwine. This group is from the seamier side of life--living each day under the radar and just trying to survive. I came away with a sense of wonder at the skill it takes to exist on the streets or entirely off the grid and how people with no real home or emotional support find the strength to connect with others where they can and keep going. The author has created such vivid characters that I became immersed in their lives and hoped for better days to come for each of them. Some of their stories are poignant, some heartbreaking, and others uplifting. Each is memorable. I think the best novelists bring us into the world of their story and keep us there so that we don't want the book to end but, when it does, the characters stay with us long after the last page is read. Wonder Valley had that effect on me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aleta

    Really loved this book. The writing was beautiful and vivid, primarily in describing scenery. The settings were so clear in my mind, from the desert to skid row to the traffic jam on 110 (although, it's impossible not to overlay the prologue of this novel on the opening scene from La La Land!). The interweaving of the stories was excellently accomplished, with purpose to each decision in plot and character's actions. The whole story has a sort of noir-cloud without being an actual mystery or sus Really loved this book. The writing was beautiful and vivid, primarily in describing scenery. The settings were so clear in my mind, from the desert to skid row to the traffic jam on 110 (although, it's impossible not to overlay the prologue of this novel on the opening scene from La La Land!). The interweaving of the stories was excellently accomplished, with purpose to each decision in plot and character's actions. The whole story has a sort of noir-cloud without being an actual mystery or suspense novel. (read as an ARC from BOTM. Numerous typos to the point of being distracting and misleading, but I'm assuming those will be fixed by publication).

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.