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In the Heart of the Valley of Love

Most Americans living in poverty are women and children, but when was the last time you read a good novel about them? Kadohata sets hers in Los Angeles in the year 2052. Don’t be fooled by the date. She’s really showing us the inner city as it is now—decay, despair, riots, and mass arrests—through the eyes of a 19- year-old Japanese-American girl. The plot is slight, most characters are somewhat vague, but as in her earlier The Floating World, Kadohata’s prose sparks a steady stream of low-voltage epiphanies. And In the Heart of the Valley of Love‘s insights into the survival strategies of people trapped at Pico and Union couldn’t be more timely, or more moving.

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