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The Ruins of California

B-

Inez Ruin’s mother is a bosomy former flamenco dancer (and enthusiast of est self-improvement seminars) from a working-class Latino family; her father, an MG-driving, ginseng-tea-drinking playboy from a moneyed Republican clan. Naturally — this being California in the 1970s?they’re divorced, and while Mom dates an eighth-grade basketball coach, Dad gets it on with a rich San Francisco hippie chick. Wide-eyed young Inez floats between these vividly depicted subcultures, but Martha Sherrill never adequately illustrates how the crazy patchwork upbringing shapes her character, making The Ruins of California more of a field guide to Left Coast stereotypes than a convincing coming-of-age novel.

The Ruins of California
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