author: Stephanie Kegan
published: February 2015
publisher: Simon & Schuster
Natalie is a third-grade teacher in California, married to a lawyer. They have two daughters: one a genius teenager, the other a typical second grader. While Natalie was growing up, she adored her older brother Bobby, also a genius. Bobby changed, left home and became a hermit.
A Cal bomber is bombing universities because of technology's influence on the environment. One day, Natalie reads a letter from Bobby to her mother and realizes the letter is very similar to the published manifesto of the Cal Bomber. Natalie and her husband go to the FBI with this information; they receive a promise that they will remain anonymous.
The FBI arrests Bobby; the informer's identity is told. The press congregates on Natalie's front lawn.
In Conversation with author Stephanie Kegan about GOLDEN STATE
Your novel tells a story centered on family love and loyalty. What made you want to write Golden State?
I think every good story has a family drama somewhere inside it. The Oklahoma City bomber, the Unabomber, the American Taliban—and so on—all left families stunned by their arrests. I kept thinking about their siblings, their parents, how their normal, private lives ended in a flash, what it might feel like to have your family dreams shattered so publicly.
Quote from the book:
Sippenhaft, a German word I'd come across. It means punishment for the crimes of your blood relatives. I was wearing mine on my face.
This was an enjoyable read, seeing how Natalie, her husband, daughters, mother and sister respond to the news. They want to avoid the death penalty for Bobby; however, he refuses to use the mental illness plea. The ending covering Bobby's trial was bittersweet. I recommended this book to my Book Club.