Wonder Valley (MP3 CD)
November 2017 Indie Next List
“A man running naked among the gridlocked cars of an L.A. freeway is the catalyst for this dark tale set in the rough neighborhoods of a decidedly unglamorous Los Angeles. In this version of the city, it's not only the poor and the powerless who are desperate; even the better-off characters turn out to be broken sinners who crave hope and redemption. The gritty beauty of Pochoda's writing, whether about cruelty and violence or about love, no matter how desperate, pulled me into the characters' lives and compelled me to keep reading all night.”
— Francesca De Stefano, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA
From the acclaimed author of Visitation Street, a visionary and masterful portrait of contemporary Los AngelesIt's a familiar sight in Los Angeles, traveling on the 110 during peak morning rush hour: an endless sea of commuters, with no respite for miles. But this traffic jam is different-a runner is dodging and weaving between the cars at an astonishing clip. He's moving so fast he's almost a blur. But what's clearly evident is that he is completely naked. This seemingly mundane highway backup turns into a seminal moment for a handful of Angelenos-people whose lives are in desperate need of a change.Out of this ordinary event, Ivy Pochoda spins a web that stretches all over the City of Angels, from Skid Row to the gentrified enclaves, from the desert to the ocean, all featuring characters in some sort of disarray. There's Ren, from Brooklyn and just out of juvie, who makes his way to LA to look for his mother on Skid Row who has been lost to him for years. There's Owen and James, 14-year-old twins who live in a desert commune, where their father, Patrick, a self-proclaimed healer, holds a powerful, dangerous sway over his many disciples. There's Britt, a wayward soul in search of adventure, who ends up the center of Patrick's attention. There's Tony, a successful lawyer who hates his job and his marriage and is looking for meaning. And there's Blake, a violent drifter laying low in the desert, but who unwittingly gets caught up with James and Patrick and the whole sham healing game. When one of the twins runs away after a disturbing incident on Patrick's commune, a series of events bring these characters, all so real and true, and imbued with endless amounts of empathy and wisdom, together. Whether running away from the past, or looking to reclaim their future, they all will do anything for a semblance of peace.Ivy Pochoda, who the Boston Globe said has "a profound understanding of human resilience," has written a sweeping portrait of angst, violence, heartache, and yearning-a breathtaking novel of remarkable wisdom and empathy.