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Pacific Avenue by [Watson, Anne L.]
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Pacific Avenue Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 330 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Product Description

*****#1 AMAZON.COM BESTSELLER IN LITERARY FICTION (MAY 2013)****
 
Richard Johnson is a black veteran, back from Vietnam and trying to rebuild his life by attending college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He's smart and handsome, yet haunted by memories that plague his sleep and send him flying for cover at sudden noises.
 
Kathy Woodbridge is a white student in one of Richard's classes. She's pretty, idealistic, and drawn irresistibly to Richard's combination of charm and aliveness. It leads her into a relationship different from any she had expected -- and to a tragedy greater than any she can face.
 
Lacey Greer is a secretary in San Pedro, California. When Kathy shows up at her office and is hired with no record of her past, Lacey wonders what Kathy could be running from. She's determined to find out, and to help if she can.
 
Set in the early seventies, "Pacific Avenue" explores themes of love, belonging, helpfulness, hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, interracial marriage, and healing from the trauma of war.
 
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Anne L. Watson, a retired historic preservation architecture consultant, is the author of several novels, plus books on such diverse subjects as soapmaking and baking with cookie molds. Anne has lived at various times in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and San Pedro, California, the settings of "Pacific Avenue." She currently lives in Friday Harbor, Washington, in the San Juan Islands, with her husband and fellow author, Aaron Shepard, and their cat, Skeeter.
 
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SAMPLE
 
I chose a window seat on the Greyhound, but I didn't look out. For almost the whole trip, I stared at the rough tan upholstery of the seat in front of me. It had a rip on one side and three dark stains.
 
A woman settled into the aisle seat. She raised her footrest, but it clunked back down. When I glanced her way, she caught my eye and smiled.
"How do you make these things stay put?" she asked.
 
I meant to answer -- the words were lined up in my mind. But before I could say them, they slipped apart like beads when the string breaks. I gave up and studied the seat cover again. Still tan, still ripped, still stained. The next time I looked, the woman was gone.
 
Evening came, but I didn't use my reading light. Late at night, awake in the breathing dark, I imagined running my fingers over the seat back, erasing the stains, mending the seam. In the morning, I almost believed I could fix it. So, I took care not to touch it, not to find out for sure.
 
In the afternoon, the bus left the freeway and crept through downtown traffic. I turned then, and peered through the mud-spattered window. As far as I could see, Los Angeles was a city of warehouses. I sank back into my seat.
 
When we reached the station, I claimed my suitcase and dragged it through the waiting room to the street. Outside I found blank walls and empty sidewalks. No direction and no one to ask.
 
Well, I ran away from college, then from New Orleans, and then Baton Rouge. Is it too soon to run away from here?
 

About the Author

Aaron Shepard and Anne L. Watson are a husband and wife writing team. Aaron is the award-winning author of many retellings of folktales and world classics for young readers. His books include The Legend of Lightning Larry and The Sea King's Daughter. Anne is a novelist. They live in Olympia, Washington.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1096 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Shepard & Piper (May 11 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004I1KRV4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #194,336 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
While the book briefly starts in a rather dry and flat manner ... it quickly lights up into a dynamic and vivid story which will capture most readers interest and hold it to the very end. Most readers will be caught up in the dramatic interracial love affair between Kathy Woodridge, the daughter of a Northwestern University professor and Richard Johnson, the son of a non-commissioned black career Army officer. They met in September 1972 in Baton Rouge Louisiana in a psychology class. Their meeting was a most symbolic and symbiotic experience. Kathy eventually introduced Richard to her family where he received a mixed reception of acceptance. When there was a loud crash from some shutters - Richard dove for cover under the dining room table, breaking porcelain dishes and over turning whatever food had been placed on the table. Only Sam, Kathy's sister's fiance totally understood what happened and asked the telling question, "Nam?" To which Richard replied, "Yes" as he walked off in embarrassment to wash off cranberry sauce and other food stuck to his good suit.

With this inauspicious beginning, the couple continued dating and engaged in a physical love affair that led to Kathy's pregnancy, outside of marriage. She looked forward to having his child but had serious reservations about her relationship with Richard after he suggested she could have an abortion, that he would understand ... While her father accepted Richard, her mother was obviously tight-lipped and disapproving. Richard had long ago cut off relations with his family. Essentially he felt his father disowned him when he joined the Army and was sent to Viet Nam. He did not do what his father had urged, finish college and become a commissioned officer.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book to be captivating. Pacific Avenue is so raw in its emotions, it was as if the author was writing her own story. I had to keep reminding myself this was a piece of fiction. It is not a predictable story in any way. Each new page captures you and leads you to the next.

This book has some scarred figures and will take you on an emotional ride. Richard, the young African American college student, just back from Viet Nam. He is estranged from his family, and his nights are filled with the horrors he experienced during the war while he sleeps. Even during the day he is haunted.

Kathy is a young white college student whom her mother never liked. She never measured up to her mother's standards. Kathy was taught as a child that the color of a persons skin did not matter. She begins a relationship with Richard and invites him to dinner at her parent's house. Her mother did not seem pleased, but her father accepted him. To her mother racism becomes prevalent.

This book shows us the dynamics of a generation that is just beginning to step out of the mold that has plagued both blacks and whites in the USA. It is a story of the love and tragedy that two people share. One black and one white.

They both quit school and move to New Orleans in hopes they can be accepted as a couple. Everything there was fine until one day. Eventually, they part, but not for the reasons anyone who is reading this may think.

Kathy jumps on the first bus leaving. She is running away from her past, and the events that have destroyed her world. She arrives in San Pedro, California not knowing what she will do. She is a young woman who is mourning her loss. Her pain will not go away, and she does not know how to pick up the pieces and begin a new life.

How she does it is her story, the story of Pacific Avenue. The author has sought to entertain you and keep your attention focused on the book. She has done so until the very last page.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa09f45c4) out of 5 stars 196 reviews
75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0a2615c) out of 5 stars `The good things hurt worse than the bad.' March 17 2008
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a novel that combines elements of hope and happiness with tragedy and triumph, and ends up with that compromise known as reality.

Kathy, escaping a past that has brought her pain, meets Lacey while searching for a job. Lacey, needing to learn that the pattern of mothering changes as children reach adulthood, becomes concerned for Kathy and seeks to find out more about her past. By moving between past and present and sharing the narrative between Kathy and Lacey, we piece together Kathy's life and Lacey's challenge. The shifting points of view are handled deftly.

Ms Watson has taken some relatively common real life ingredients and combined them in a way that provides readers with a magnificent story. The writing is superb, the main characters are three dimensional, and very human. There is much to enjoy in this novel. Ms Watson has packed a world into less than 320 pages.

I am looking forward to reading other novels by Ms Watson.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0a261b0) out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful Feb. 4 2008
By Sebastian Fernandez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was extremely surprised by the quality of the writing of Anne L. Watson. She delivered the complete package, a well-crafted plot, with proficiently developed characters, and the use of a writing style that has nothing to be jealous of the greats in the genre. The fact that I read this novel in one sitting, really speaks to how much I liked it and the kind of grip that the story gets on the reader. I have had this happen to me before with several mystery novels, but this was one of the few times I experienced it with literary fiction.

When Kathy arrives at San Pedro and rents a room in Pacific Avenue, she is at the bottom of a deep hole. A series of terrible events have affected her life and she is trying to find the strength to move forward and forge a new future. This is where she meets Lacey, a middle-aged woman that is going through a crisis herself, after her daughter left for college and "does not need her anymore". Kathy is the perfect pet project for Lacey, who does not need long to see that the youngster carries a heavy burden and is in desperate need of help. Thus, starts this novel, which alternates the narration in first person between these two complex and mesmerizing characters. The story also goes back and forth in time, between past and present, and as we learn more about Kathy's misfortune, we get drawn deeper and deeper into this wonderful novel.

There are several interesting topics intertwined in this story, such as interracial marriages, the effects of war, and infant death. The author treats these topics seriously and delves deep into how they affect the characters of her story.

I do not feel I exaggerate when I say that this is one of the best books I have read in the last few years. I am looking forward to discovering more works by this great author.
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0a265e8) out of 5 stars Nice Effort, Sad Story May 9 2008
By Michelaneous by Michele - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book took me about a month to finish . . . I simply wasn't motivated to get to the end of the story, most likely because of the structure. The plot is predictable by design, and I found it very sad--neither uplifting nor particularly moving. The writing starts out strong, with great use of mood and description, but soon lapses into the annoying habit of relying on italicized internal dialog for the main character. She is a young woman named Kathy, who escapes her sad life in Louisiana, boards a bus for the unknown, and winds up in southern California. A second character, Lacey, (Kathy's co-worker at a construction company) has an occasional chapter, where she primarily obsesses over finding out more about Kathy, but this is very much Kathy's story and Lacey is tragically short-changed.

Kathy goes back in time from her arrival on "Pacific Avenue" in SoCal, to the years just prior and her complicated, young-adult life, her bi-racial relationship with a troubled Viet Nam vet named Richard, their child, Jamie, and her racist parents--particularly her hateful mother--and her relationship/s with a group known as the "Motleys," who put on puppet shows for a living. Skimming over anything to do with the puppets and the shows, I kept looking to the pages that moved the story forward and played out the details as to why she felt the need to escape.

Ultimately, one feels great sympathy for Kathy. She's innocent and likeable; however, that internal italicized dialog kept getting in the way. On each page I wanted to tell her to SPEAK UP! Unfortunately, this writing technique ruined (for me) an otherwise compelling tale of love and loss.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0a269a8) out of 5 stars Interesting but somewhat depressing March 30 2013
By Jan Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book takes place in the seventy's and shows true to that time. A big part of the story takes place in New Orleans with several cultures, a Vietnam Vet, a young woman who just wants to be happy. She had fallen in love with a black man which had disappointed her family. Her problems just seem to get worse and worse as the book goes on.

I kept reading it in hopes that some joy would come to the main character. It never really did. Without giving away anything I found the book to be somewhat depressing. I guess this too was a sign of the time when the war was going on, racism was a big issue and sprinkle an "out of wedlock" pregnacy in the mix. You really have sympathy for the main character as she struggles to hold her family together and to just survive.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0a26954) out of 5 stars Avenue of Peace Feb. 20 2008
By Erika Borsos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While the book briefly starts in a rather dry and flat manner ... it quickly lights up into a dynamic and vivid story which will capture most readers interest and hold it to the very end. Most readers will be caught up in the dramatic interracial love affair between Kathy Woodridge, the daughter of a Northwestern University professor and Richard Johnson, the son of a non-commissioned black career Army officer. They met in September 1972 in Baton Rouge Louisiana in a psychology class. Their meeting was a most symbolic and symbiotic experience. Kathy eventually introduced Richard to her family where he received a mixed reception of acceptance. When there was a loud crash from some shutters - Richard dove for cover under the dining room table, breaking porcelain dishes and over turning whatever food had been placed on the table. Only Sam, Kathy's sister's fiance totally understood what happened and asked the telling question, "Nam?" To which Richard replied, "Yes" as he walked off in embarrassment to wash off cranberry sauce and other food stuck to his good suit.

With this inauspicious beginning, the couple continued dating and engaged in a physical love affair that led to Kathy's pregnancy, outside of marriage. She looked forward to having his child but had serious reservations about her relationship with Richard after he suggested she could have an abortion, that he would understand ... While her father accepted Richard, her mother was obviously tight-lipped and disapproving. Richard had long ago cut off relations with his family. Essentially he felt his father disowned him when he joined the Army and was sent to Viet Nam. He did not do what his father had urged, finish college and become a commissioned officer. His stint in Viet Nam left invisible emotional scars - which usually surfaced at night. He sufferred from post traumatic stress syndrome but would not seek help. He and Kathy put their college plans on hold to have their baby. They moved to the French Quarter of New Orleans where, as an interracial couple, they would be more accepted by society.

The plot and story line are very engaging with believable and well fleshed out characters who have complex family dynamics. They live in the turbulent times of the early and mid 1970s, during the post Civil Rights and post hippie movements. The unsettled turmoil of the Viet Nam War continues to haunt the landscape in which everyone lives. The author adds a new dimension of excitement: the city of New Orleans and its social milieu, along with some very eccentric and totally captivating personalities. First, Kathy found a job working for Eddie Graziano, who ran a produce stand in the French Quarter where he sold fresh vegetables shipped in from his brother's farm in Mississippi, along with wholesale produce. Later, Richard and Kathy moved to Gretna, a town not far from New Orleans where the rent was cheaper. They found most unusual jobs ... as puppeteers working for a couple who became their good friends. Martin was an Australian born journalist who was injured during the Tet Offensive and wheel chair bound. His injury occured while he was a journalist in Viet Nam. It is where he met his Vietnamese wife, Thu. They are the parents of twin boys. Kathy and Richard rented a small house with a backyard from Francine Boudreaux, a person of Creole and Spanish mixture. Eventually, this unusual mix of people became fast friends, and grew fond of each other, sharing meals and getting together socially ... They called themselves "the Motley family".

However, an awful event occured ... a death which left them all stunned. It caused Kathy to flee to San Pedro, California via Greyhound Bus, to start a new life, at the ripe young age of twenty. She was dropped off at the end of the line - on Pacific Avenue, a rather run down neighborhood. She found a place to rent and an average job as secretarial assistant in the Giannini Construction Firm. Lacey was the executive secretary who took an interest in Kathy, the waif-like orphan who seemed to turn up out of nowhere with no family. She quietly and efficiently did her work she seemed very sad ... Lacey protected her young assistant but also engaged in detective work behind the scenes to piece together Kathy's story. The story Kathy herself would not share or talk about.

In the end, Kathy makes peace with the emotionally devastating events which rocked her world - from which she sought escape. This story has a gut-wrenching surprise event which blew Kathy's world apart. It is a rich and powerful story told in a suspense-filled manner. Clues are dropped but there is no way any reader can predict or anticipate the powerful blow which altered Kathy's world forever but with which she eventually made peace. This is a most highly recommended novel. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]