Nearing the end of his jail sentence, Kimo decides to make a quick escape for the weekend. Holding the image of golfing with friends in mind, he walks off the premises during yard duty. A chance encounter with the alluring Rachel turns his solo getaway into an adventure for two. They meet up with Kimo’s best friend, Frank, Frank’s brother, and his wife, who has long been the love of Kimo’s life. Kimo’s perspective shifts as he learns of tragic developments that have occurred since his incarceration, and his free days are now filled with a purpose more significant than golf.
Doing Time in California is an entertaining, humorous and thought-provoking novel by Dwight Jesmer. This is an ensemble story that plays out like a road trip story, but the characters are more compelling than some B movie comedy and the exploration of life throughout the novel feels meaningful. The characters are unique, and their various quirks compliment each other in fun and funny ways.
The tone throughout the book is friendly and lighthearted, so even as we navigate morally complicated subject matter it’s a pleasurable experience for the reader. Throughout the story, Kimo references events from his past, but the storyline stays firmly rooted in the present; which makes it easy for the reader to feel like they are along for the ride with Kimo, experiencing everything in real time with him.
Through themes of sin and penance, the author threads questions of morality into the story, so that readers are constantly considering the goodness of the protagonist. This question of right and wrong serves as the main device that drives the drama forward throughout the novel. Though nontraditional, I found it very interesting to follow the story in this manner. I heartily enjoyed this story and the creative examination of morals but I would have enjoyed a deeper exploration of the minor characters because I found them all so fascinating. Doing Time in California is a charismatic and evocative novel that will appeal to anyone looking for a story with depth but keeps things light.
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