California Golden

Books on Tape. Aug. 2023. 12:18 hrs. ISBN 9780593787366. $95. F
Benjamin’s (The Children’s Blizzard) latest, set in the turbulent but transformative 1960s, provides a window into early surf culture in California. Benjamin traces the ups and downs of the Donnelly women—sisters Mindy and Ginger and their aloof mother, Carol, a world-class swimmer and surfing pioneer. Listeners follow the sisters as they grow into adulthood, contending with their mother’s frequent absences and grappling with sexism, racism, abuse, and abandonment. Their lives are complicated by the unique pressures of surf life—a world dominated by men—and the pull of the ’60s counterculture movement. The ocean is a constant in this story of passion and neglect, following the women as they seek their own communities, break traditional rules, and make their way through the ensuing fallout. Christine Lakin’s smooth narration pairs well with Benjamin’s enticing descriptions of California and will have listeners planning their own trips to the beach.
VERDICT An atmospheric novel that transports readers to sunny southern California and through the complicated times of the 1960s. Pair with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising or Erica Abeel’s Wild Girls.
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