This book was impactful, visceral, anxiety-inducing. I spent the majority of this book with my heart racing. I read this at a fever pitch, a deep intensity to find out what happened to everyone, what will happen to Dessa and Beegie. I was not prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that this book was going to send me on. Dessa, a young white mother separated from her daughter because of a night out with old friends, struggles to find her way back home so she can reunite with her daughter. Beegie, a young Black girl alone and isolated, separated from a foster home she hates and fearful of the monsters in the world looking desperately for a way to protect herself and make people afraid to mess with her. When these two paths cross, they become an unlikely partnership sent off a difficult journey of surviving the aftermath of a horrible earthquake.
The description of the book says it’s the Big One, the one that separates California from the rest of the U.S. and there was never any confirmation of that in the book. It felt more to me like it was just a massive earthquake that California/LA hadn’t experienced in a long time, if ever. I think how Foley described the earthquake and the effects of it were brilliant. I felt like I was there, I could picture everything happening and felt the rush of panic that comes with that. Dessa and Beegie’s fear was my fear, their anger, my anger. I truly hoped for the best for them even while every chapter told me it was hopeless. The brief pockets of calm and stillness only added to that sensation of dread even as it fed the hope. I don’t want to give away the ending of this book, but I will say it is worth it to make it to the end.
If you feel like you can handle a book that has quite a lot of triggers (rape, sexual assault, death, physical assault, guns, suicide, child sexual assault, and general violence) then I think this is worth it. I don’t think all of it was necessary, the rape scene didn’t have to happen in my opinion, I think it was just more misery on a plate that was already full of it (and to that effect, did that plate even need to be as full as it was?). I understand the point of the scene, but I feel like it could have been accomplished with less. That is something that I would love to discuss with other readers so I want you, if you feel comfortable, to read this book and then come back to me with your opinions! Let me know how you felt about everything too.