“A riveting new novel” (Kirkus Reviews) about finding evil close to home and how far a woman will go to protect her family: Named one of “The Top 10 Things We Love This Week” by Entertainment Weekly.
Growing up in the 1960s in one of California’s most prominent political families, Natalie Askedahl worshipped her big brother, Bobby, a sensitive math prodigy who served as her protector and confidante. But after Bobby left home at sixteen on a Princeton scholarship, something changed between them. Now that Natalie has a career and a family of her own, her only real regret is losing Bobby.
Then, a bomb explodes in the middle of her seemingly ideal life. Her oldest daughter is on the Stanford campus when one person is killed and another maimed. Other attacks follow across California. Frightened for her family, Natalie grows obsessed with the case of the so-called Cal Bomber, until she makes an unthinkable discovery: the bomber’s manifesto reads alarmingly like the last letter she has from Bobby. Unsure of whom to sacrifice and whom to protect, Natalie is confronted with a terrible choice. As her life splits irrevocably into before and after, she begins to learn that some of the most dangerous things in the world are the stories we tell ourselves.
“An intense, provocative novel...Golden State will resonate with anyone who’s ever watched a loved one self-destruct” (People). As Los Angeles Magazine said about author Stephanie Kegan: “You’ve got our attention.”
With hints of We Need to Talk About Kevin and loosely based on the Unabomber case of the 1990s, Kegan's (The Baby) novel shows what can happen when mental illness is left untreated. For 12 years, a string of letter bombs has killed or maimed scores of people in California's university system, and the identity of the person responsible remains unknown. But when 48-year-old Natalie Askedahl reads the manifesto written by the "Cal Bomber" in the paper and recognizes some of her older brother Bobby's signature rants against technology and big government, she's torn between turning him in and protecting him. Soon the FBI gets involved, flubbing their search warrant but nonetheless pinning a solid case on an unrepentant Bobby and unleashing a firestorm of publicity. Meanwhile, Bobby's family members insist he should plead insanity to escape the death penalty. Though this book has some elements of the best courtroom thrillers an antihero who seems creepily rational, dramatic tension when Bobby insists on handling his own defense at the final hour some of the plot developments are more predictable than revelatory (such as a troubling detail from Bobby's childhood and Natalie's increasingly rocky marriage). Instead of insight into the mind of a killer, we are left with an all-too-common portrait of a family who should've seen it coming but chose to look the other way until it was too late.