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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
With quirky and interesting characters, and a setting in the 70s and 80s, I was prepared to love the novel . . . and I did. Not since Jackson McCrae's THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD or the book YOU REMIND ME OF ME have I so enjoyed a book. The title, like most great books, is somewhat misleading as it's not about the state of California. That said, I was riveted throughout...
Published on Jan. 26 2005 by Bobby-Ray

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, but poor story
I was actually interested in every character of Langer's, but their stories were a little too 'real-life' if I may. It was if I was reading about a normal highschool experience. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but it didn't provide enough for me. I wanted to see the characters tested more; I wanted to read a story rather than a timeline of a group of mostly average...
Published on Dec 1 2011 by SBuckle


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, Jan. 26 2005
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
With quirky and interesting characters, and a setting in the 70s and 80s, I was prepared to love the novel . . . and I did. Not since Jackson McCrae's THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD or the book YOU REMIND ME OF ME have I so enjoyed a book. The title, like most great books, is somewhat misleading as it's not about the state of California. That said, I was riveted throughout this stellar little gem and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in good writing. CROSSING CALIFORNIA is a keeper.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, but poor story, Dec 1 2011
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This review is from: Crossing California (Mass Market Paperback)
I was actually interested in every character of Langer's, but their stories were a little too 'real-life' if I may. It was if I was reading about a normal highschool experience. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but it didn't provide enough for me. I wanted to see the characters tested more; I wanted to read a story rather than a timeline of a group of mostly average kids that shared similar patterns to the rest of us. Because of this, the book felt 200 pages too long because nothing substantial happened and the character's trajectory was obvious.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and quite different, July 28 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
I liked this book very much. I felt as if the author were trying to capture some heady California "idea" with the style and pacing of the writing. What I don't understand is why I never heard of this book until I stumbled upon it by accident.
This should be much higher on the list than what it is. Very definitely worth checking out. Also try these books: What to Keep, The Bark of the Dogwood, The Stone Diaries, and Bel Canto.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I don't get it!, July 18 2004
By 
DSP "dp453" (Dayton, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
I had read that this book was supposed to be the "best summer fiction book of 2004". I was eagerly awaiting this highly touted book. What a disappointment! I tried at least three times to begin the book, hoping that i was missing something and hadn't given it enough attention...not the case...i just couldn't connect with the characters, or their self absorbed lives. I gave up. Definitely cannot recommend this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars unforgetable characters, July 16 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
The structure of this book reminded me of Catch 22. It has short chapters, each told from the point of view of a central character, and the time covers the period from the taking of the hostages to the beginning of the Reagan presidency. Each character is hysterical (and somewhat screwy). And it is not always clear how they will resolve their various hangups. How, for example, will the not-very-good putative lead singer/songwriter of a Zionist rock band ever find a girlfriend? And how will his sister ever manage to have an orgy? And when will the Marxist radical Jill Waserstrom stop blowing off the boy who makes her the most beautiful movies imaginable?
I completely disagree with the negative reviews posted here and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The book is full of dialogue, some quite poignant. There are lots of moments narrated in real time. And I loved the writing -- lively, engaging, and truly funny in a way like nothing I've read since Catch 22.
I couldn't put the book down for two days. I think it's genius.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Impressive, July 16 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
I've rarely seen such impeccable character creation. It puts me in mind of Philip Roth. In Langer's case, plot is secondary; the motivation of the characters entirely propels the novel. It's a difficult book for me to review because the setting feels very familiar, having been raised in a largely Jewish community during the 70's and 80's (and, yes, I voted for John Anderson in my junior high's 1980 mock election). So, while I admit to overidentifying with the novel, I also greatly admire Langer's literary ease. I'm thrilled to find a new writer whose next work I can happily anticipate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring and satirical portrait of Chicago 1979-1981., July 14 2004
By 
S. Calhoun "rhymeswithorange" (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
The setting of CROSSING CALIFORNIA initially peaked my interest. I live fairly close to the Rogers Park neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago and have frequented several of the restaurants, parks and schools sprinkled throughout this book. I have eaten at Wolfy's, attended Roycemore School and daily drive past Mather Park. In essence, I cross California Avenue every day. With all that said, I can attest that Adam Langer knows his stuff well. He successfully captured the essence of Chicago.
Set against the city's and nation's social and political upheavals, CROSSING CALIFORNIA focuses on the lives and turmoil of a myriad of characters, mostly Jewish, who reside either to the east or west of California in Rogers Park. Included are oversexed teenagers who constantly buck the system by smoking pot, shoplifting and projecting their voices loud and clear along with their parents who filled with parental ills of their own. Each character is marvelously flawed in their own respects.
The narrative is told from diverse points of view and each are cleverly connected to the others similar to a spider web. Lastly, this book is hilarious and, despite the cliche, made me laugh out loud many times. I found myself astounded by Langer's social satire that was constantly fresh and never stale or distracting. This is a great debut novel by a talented new writer; I will definitely look forward to more works by Adam Langer in the future. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not California, but Chicago, July 4 2004
By 
Peggy Vincent "author and reader" (Oakland, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
I'll wager many will buy this book thinking it's going to be about California. Not. It's set in Chicago. But I'll also wager that they won't regret their purchase. Adam Langer's book is epic in its sprawl and its sometimes insane attention to detail and the minutiae of his characters' lives, but it spans a period of only 2-3 years (1979 - 1981). Focusing primarily on the members of 3 families who live on one side or another of California Ave, the street that divides a Jewish neighborhood into those of the upper middle class from those of the mostly working class, the book allows us to see all aspects of that important time in America's 20th century through the eyes of a group of teenagers who come together, drift apart, and come together again in a different mix.
Really, really, really, really good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and fun, July 2 2004
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
Crossing California really takes you back to the malaise era of Jimmy Carter and Iranian hostage-taking. Langer's got a gift for capturing the souls of a wide variety of Chicago teens and their parents and teachers in a stylishly written slice of life novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fully realized, fully unique achievement, June 30 2004
By 
Judge Knott "judge_knott" (Upper West Side, NY, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Crossing California (Hardcover)
There are bad novels, average novels, good novels, great novels, and then once in a while a novel comes along that rattles the cage of what, optimally, this literary form can and should achieve when approached by a fresh pen loaded with new and unique ideas. Adam Langer's "Crossing California" fits into the last category.
Many other reviewers have sung the praises of this work and given a synopsis of its plot and characters. I would like, therefore, to limit myself to ticking off what I think are the work's most innovative aspects.
First of all, this is a text that reminds me of what happens when a jeweler pops off the back of a Swiss pocket watch: you can see all the different gears and levers and wheels that work separately but ultimately coordinate themselves to produce a single mechanical movement. In much the same way, Langer's use of language creates a vast, dense, energetic panorama of people and events, but all of these diverse elements come together to form a clear, linear narrative. "Crossing California" boasts a crowded cast of characters--each of whom is well-drawn and distinct from the others. Even the tertiary personages who pop up only for a few lines add to the text's tone and motion. Simultaneously, each of the main characters has his or her own agenda, and pursues it in the deliciously detailed topography of the Rogers Park section of Chicago.
Langer's sense of humor must be described as a cornucopia. There's subtle humor, make-you-blush humor, laugh-right-away funny stuff, and laugh-the-next-day-when-you-finally-get-it funny stuff. All mixed together. In addition, Langer makes the narrator funny, but also succeeds at making the characters themselves funny independent of the narrator, on their own and when they interact with other characters. (Hopefully that explanation makes sense. If not, just read the book and you'll know what I mean.)
Lastly, this is a really clever and bittersweet salute to the fizzling out of the 1970's and the jolting start of the 1980's. To Langer's credit, I don't think this book could be moved out of the Rogers Park neighborhood or moved ahead or back in time and still keep its integrity: the work is the perfect harmonization of a unique time, a unique place, a unique national and local mood, and a fascinating gaggle of characters.
All in all, a very rewarding read from a dynamic new voice.
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Crossing California
Crossing California by Adam Langer (Mass Market Paperback - May 3 2005)
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