Dana Johnson’s Elsewhere, California is a vivid novel of the Golden State. Narrated by Avery Arlington, a Black artist born in South Los Angeles and raised in West Covina, it traces a number of migrations across the physical and social territory of the Southland. Johnson knows her material—the book’s narrative follows the loose shape of her own life. But she has more than autobiography on her mind. Rather, the novel positions Avery as representative not just of Johnson but also of the entire shifting landscape of Southern California, a place made up of cities and of suburbs, where we move from childhood to the edgy pressures of adulthood and learn that who we are might be different from who we appear to be.
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