Synopses & Reviews
Set in Chicago's Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park, this is the story of three families adults and children alike coming of age during the tumultuous, turbulent days of the Iran hostage crisis. At the close of the 1970s, the Rovners, the Wasserstroms, and the Wills-Silvermans will have to shed their pasts to cross into that new, shining decade of hope: the 80s.
"[A] brilliant debut....[Langer's] steely humanism balances the corruptions of ego against an appreciation of the energies of its schemes, putting him firmly in the tradition of such Chicago writers as Bellow
." Publishers Weekly
"Langer's gift is for layering each page with an almost obsessive level of detail...without ever subsuming the characters, who shine brightly as they rocket into the 1980s. Of epic scope, yet intimate in its accomplishments." Kirkus Reviews
"In his ambitious, irresistible debut, Langer packs in more hilarious and agonizing moments than most writers manage in a lifetime. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"[F]unny, hyperdetailed, super-sized....Although Langer may have aimed for Philip Roth and landed, instead, beside David Sedaris, his novel is smart, affectionate, and uproariously entertaining." Booklist
"The novel's themes prove that [Langer] is a writer with a large vision, but all too often Crossing California tries to be a big novel rather than simply being one." Washington Post Book World
"Like Salinger, Langer captures the sensations and speech of adolescents with consummate skill....Langer's prose soars as he nails down his characters' concerns with a precision that simply stuns....Crossing California is unforgettable." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"I can think of no other book that so captures the experience of being young just as Reaganism dawned....Langer has taken his astonishing wealth of memory and research and used it to create a whole roster of comic, heartbreaking, convincing characters." Newsday
"Adam Langer achieves so much in this book....Crossing California is serious and heartfelt; it is also laugh-out-loud funny. Langer has created a tender blend of compassion, amusement and devotion." San Francisco Chronicle
"Giving [the characters] up closing the book and breaking the spell is the worst part of this engrossing debut novel." Chicago Sun-Times
"Much about Crossing California is delightful and knowing....In the end, however, too little happens to too many people, and the book is too long to rest on atmosphere alone." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"No special tools are needed to decipher the book's universally appealing themes of growing up, looking for love, and finding one's identity, expressed here with empathy, wit, and irony." School Library Journal
An ambitious debut novel. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) A dazzling debut novel. (Chicago Tribune) Should come with a warning label: 'Abandon all nostalgia, ye who enter here'...brutally funny. (Christian Science Monitor) A novel of such heartfelt audacity that this reviewer feels lucky to sing its praises. (Oregonian)
Poignant, ambitious, and tremendously fun, this bestselling discovery of the season is a novel about two generations of family and friendship in Chicago from November 1979 through January 1981.
About the Author
Adam Langer has been a senior editor of Book magazine and a recipient of a prestigious National Arts Journalism fellowship at Columbia University. He has worked extensively as a print journalist, film producer, and playwright and has been featured on NPR, CNN Headline News, Fox News, and E! Entertainment Television. Crossing California is his first novel.
Review A Day
"[A] wickedly witty novel. [Langer]'s so good at social satire that it draws him away from what he does even better: the tender portrayal of smart, lonely people struggling to cobble together some meaning. But if the fireworks in this debut drown each other out now and then, they're launched from a storehouse of creative energy that's sure to keep dazzling us for a long time." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
(read the entire Christian Science Monitor review