review by Alena Kunjumon, age 13

The Last Days of California by Mary Miller

    The Last Days of California, written by Mary Miller, discusses the journey that Jess, the narrator, undergoes both internally and externally. On the outside, her and her sister are two teenagers preparing for the rapture that will take place in California. Along with their parents, they hand out flyers and encourage people to turn to God and be ready for the upcoming Rapture, all while driving to California to be there when it happens. However, everything is not as smooth as it seems. Elise, Jess’s sister, is pregnant, even after being given the purity ring and promising to remain chaste, and does not believe in the faith. Meanwhile, Jess is also struggling with her doubts about the Christian faith and slowly moving away from it. Her father, while being a huge promoter of the movement, has recently lost his job and is running low on money. Throughout this coming-of-age novel, Jess juggles different opinions and emotions and starts to question herself and her beliefs along the car ride.
    I was engaged throughout the book. I could relate well to Jess’s character, who was described as “socially awkward” and “an empathetic person” who struggles with her faith, yet still calls themselves a religious Christian. It also followed a dramatic and appealing plot and made you sit down and ask yourself questions such as what you would do if you were in the character’s shoes or how you would react to a certain event. The book, however, had a lot of explicit references and graphic descriptions of sexual encounters and experiences that Jess and Elise have. While I should probably have anticipated this, it was a bit disturbing to read and I really would not recommend this readily to 13- and 14-year-old teens. Overall, however, it wasn’t a bad novel if you got past the mature themes and kept an open mind.
    While I enjoyed reading this book, the material that consisted within it was a bit too heavy for me. I normally love to read coming-of-age and teenage drama novels, but this seemed to be less focused on how Jess was struggling with her beliefs and more on her quite graphic tales of partying hard with boys, drinking, and debauchery along with her sister, Elise. All in all, I would give this story a rating of 3.5/5 stars.

Find this book in our catalog: The Last Days of California

Call Number: FIC MILLER,M

233 pages

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