cover image Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

Chiara Barzini. Doubleday, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-54227-2

Barzini’s moving and provocative coming-of-age novel follows a character charging headlong into the chaos of adolescence. Uprooted from her home in Rome by parents with stars and dollar signs in their eyes, Eugenia is forced to forge a new life for herself in Van Nuys, Calif. They arrive destination shortly after the 1992 L.A. riots; the city and Eugenia’s psyche are fragile and unsettled. After her only friend is killed in a gang-related incident, Eugenia becomes transfixed by a mysterious girl named Deva and the allure of Topanga Canyon. Feeling overlooked by her movie-making family, she reaches out for acceptance through experimentation with sex and drugs, crushing and rebuilding her identity as the days pass by. While Eugenia has normal teenage issues, her maturity and the collision of cultures and personalities she encounters make this novel richer and darker than a typical teen-angst story. (Aug.)