As everyone in the novel finds their own way of working through (or avoiding) their own difficulties, the family drama gets more tense.
L.A. Weather by Maria Amparo Escandón, Flatiron Books
This family drama set in 2016 follows Mexican-American parents, Keila and Oscar, and their three adult daughters, Claudia, Olivia, and Patricia, as they are all brought together again after Olivia's twin daughters narrowly survive drowning in Keila and Oscar's neglected swimming pool. In chronological sections separated by date, the steady pacing of the storytelling allows the reader to savor each tense reveal and its aftereffects. Each of the characters seems to be in a different state of hardship, and they each attempt to deal with it in their own way. For example: Patricia was a single teen mom and became a social media expert who works with big name clients across the country, but she still lives at home and has a husband who lives 400 miles away. In the midst of her anxiety over her sister's possibly-drowned daughters, Patricia wonders:
What was so mysterious about suffering? Why did people avoid talking about misfortune and grief? Except for a few death announcements and surgeries, people didn't discuss pain or hardship. She had made it her mission to address the good and the bad, to share the joy as well as the drama and bring out into the open the full spectrum of human emotions and experiences—"the open" being social media.
So, when all these threads of individual anguish and strain come together—and as everyone finds their own way of working through (or avoiding) their own difficulties—the family drama gets more tense. The characters all feel very real, and we are able to learn a lot about them, and through them; In only a year's time they slowly realize their own weaknesses and avoidance techniques. While the story toes the line between drama and melodrama at times, author Maria Amparo Escandón includes a bit of humor to keep it feeling down-to-earth. There are surprises on each page, and while Los Angeles is an easy place to scoff at for us Midwesterners, I'm very happy to live there with the Alvarados in L.A. Weather. (GMC)