Wednesday, June 04, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker

On the surface, California Girl is a well written crime novel. It will particularly appeal to those who have a familiarity with Orange County, California and are interested in a story that captures the atmosphere of the OC of the 1950s and 60s with its orange groves, hippie culture, and drive-in churches. There are cameo appearances by California icons Timothy Leary, Charles Manson, and Richard Nixon. Just the local interest and plot action are enough to make this a worthwhile read, but the author has gone a step further and woven some thoughtful issues throughout the setting and plot.

Telling the truth can be painfully difficult and this becomes a noticeable theme throughout the novel. This seemingly black and white concept becomes shades of gray when seen in the context of the story and the lives of the characters who find that they may hurt good people and reward the despicable if they tell the truth. A minor, yet not insignificant theme, is the struggle of growing up in a counter culture such as that of the 1960s. Thoughts and ways of life changed rapidly during this period and created much personal and societal upheaval. I appreciated that Parker never trivialized these themes or turned them into cliches.

This was my first T. Jefferson Parker novel and my experience would lead me to seek out other books by this author.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Note to other reviewers: If you have written a review of this book, please leave the permanent URL to your review in the comments section and I will be happy to add your link to my post.


  1. You know, I kind of enjoy him too - he's not an author I deliberately seek out in the library, but I've thought everything I've read by him has been dandy.

  2. I've read one book so far by T. Jefferson Parker after meeting him one year at the L.A. Times Book Festival. I really liked enjoyed the book and have been meaning to read more by him. I don't see his name brought up too often and so was glad to see someone else has read him too. :-)