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Hello, everyone! From Pasadena, California, this is Jill Hunting for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club 2023 Summer Read.

The book I’m excited to tell you about is L.A. Weather, a novel by María Amparo Escandón and the most entertaining book I have read in a long time. It’s the story of a year in the life of a family in Los Angeles, that megalopolis of movie stars and plastic surgeons, and people living in tents. Earthquakes, wildfires, and freeways. And 292 days of sunshine a year.

One of Escandón’s characters says, “People not from California say there’s no weather in LA. They think it’s always 72 and sunny.”

I’ve heard people say that when they lived here, they missed the changing seasons. People in LA claim there are indeed four seasons—five actually, if you include Award Season, which is not climate-related unless on Oscars Night the red carpet gets rained on.

At the heart of L.A. Weather is the Alvarado family. The patriarch is Old California, from a family given a land grant back in the eighteenth century. His Mexican-Jewish wife and one of their three daughters, a TV chef, are phenomenal cooks, and before long I was craving squash-flower tamales and figs with cream.

The daughters are all accomplished and clever. One budgets for the hefty fines she will pay if she’s busted for driving alone in the carpool lane. Since she’s only been caught four times, she figures she is saving herself “hundreds of hours of dreadful Los Angeles traffic,” she says, “for very low cost.”

No one nails the sense of a place and its people better than this author. Of Angelenos, she says most people think they are laid-back, when really they are ducks on a pond, frantically paddling their legs under water. Those two women you see chatting over their manicures? They’re negotiating a contract. The guy who seems to be just walking a dog in the morning is really making a deal on his cellphone. The only place people want to be seen sweating is at the gym.

And speaking of cellphones, another Alvarado sister puts her finger on one of the problems with them. When you’re talking to someone who makes you mad, you can’t slam down the receiver.

L.A. Weather is not, however, an angry or unfriendly book. It’s witty, earthy, and fun, and so of-the-moment it could have been written last week. It’s also full of heart about a family and the way families care deeply, or don’t care enough … and how they sometimes say too much, or too little.

What drives L.A. Weather is that Dad has a secret. To protect it, he has withdrawn emotionally from his wife and daughters. They know something is wrong. His effort to hide what he has done creates suspense as things go haywire. The Alvarados pull apart, and they come back together.

L.A. Weather has twelve chapters—one for every month. I’d gladly spend another year with this family. I wish they’d adopt me!

If you haven’t taken a summer vacation this year or you’d like a fun, smart book that you won’t want to put down, I suggest you get some chips and guacamole, and settle in for a read you will not forget.

Jill Hunting
Jill Hunting

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jill Hunting is a journalist, editor, and author of the memoir For Want of Wings: A Bird with Teeth and a Dinosaur in the Family. Wings was reviewed as part of the 2022 Summer Reading List and can be found at https://www.hppr.org/2022-07-11/for-want-of-wings-a-bird-with-teeth-and-a-dinosaur-in-the-family

Summer Read 2023: Summer Reading List 2023 Summer ReadHPPR Radio Readers Book Club
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