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The Washington Story

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  407 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
In The Washington Story, Adam Langer revisits his extraordinary cast of characters from Crossing California, each inextricably linked by love, betrayal, reunions, sex, death, and rebirth-and all holding out hope that their dreams are worth pursuing, as they come of age in a very particular time in American history.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Riverhead Trade (first published 2005)
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Aug 20, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Read Crossing California years ago and loved it. Don't know why it took me so long to read this sequel. Wonderful book. In Crossing, The relationship between the main characters Muly and Jill ends on a cliffhanger. Both clearly drawn to each other but never making the final connection. Washington resolves their complex relationship. Washington is about growth. The pre-teens in California grow into adults in Washington experiencing love, loss and redemption that leave each character stronger, mor ...more
Oct 31, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wendy-books
The span of time covered by "The Washington Story" is longer than in "Crossing California" (1982-87, vs. 1979-81), but in all other ways, the book's scope is narrowed. Gone are most of the plots around grown-ups, and I have my opinion of why that is. Langer is interested in people in transition, people going through big changes in life, and big changes, historically, come less and less frequently as we grow up. The Rovners, Michael and Ellen, solidify their divorce and move their separate ways. ...more
Jul 16, 2009 Alison rated it did not like it
I would give this book a half-star if it were possible. I was so excited to read it after I finished (and gave five stars to) "Crossing California." But it was just awful -- it made me wonder if I were totally crazy for loving its prequel. The characters had started to wear on me by the end of the "Crossing California," and I found them unbearably annoying from page one of "The Washington Story." I bought the book because the library didn't have it, and I never finished it. Ugh.
Jan 29, 2009 Cassie rated it liked it
This book was really enjoyable, but I did not like it nearly as much as Crossing California. Much of the spark, the innocence, was gone.
Jun 07, 2007 Glenn rated it really liked it
In “The Washington Story,” Adam Langer has given us a world full of characters to cheer for-- to achieve their stated goals and dreams, to avoid pain and sorrow; and simultaneously he also presents them as hugely capable of frustrating us with actions that at first seem out of character, designed to drive them away from what we think will be their destiny, but slowly over the course of this novel, these situations turn out to reveal depths--in both senses--that only get hinted at early on.

It’s q
I loved CROSSING CALIFORNIA because it described the lives of Jewish kids in West Rogers Park (where I grew up) with such charm. It was a great character study that revolved around Jewish teens and adolescents. Langer intimately and honestly brought the reader into a very specific place and ethnic group by describing relationships and lives without any sense of generalizing. Langer allowed situations and people to unfold in a very well defined setting. I was totally absorbed because I know this ...more
Sep 03, 2007 Agathafrye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone I see for the next two months, as well as fans of Jewish slang.
Wow, what a book. This was the follow-up to "Crossing California," which I suspect was a contributing factor to getting me my first job as a librarian. I was reading it at the time of my interview, and one of the panel questions was, "What are you currently reading, and would you recommend it to others?" If I remember correctly, I went on a rambling yet enthusiastic rant about how glorious a book it was. Author Langer's journalistic career made him an astute observer of human behavior. His chara ...more
Oct 21, 2009 Neil rated it really liked it
I'm gobsmacked by Langer's ability to create interesting believable characters. The way he keeps them spinning around each other, only occasionally really connecting, so often missing that connection because of misunderstandings, is dead on. Just when you think you have a Michelle Wasserstrom or a Larry Rovner pegged, Langer will give them an extra wrinkle of depth.

I also love the way he captures the atmosphere of the 80s. I'm not from a big city, but I relate to Jill Wasserstrom and her outsid
Oct 23, 2007 Katherine rated it liked it
Recommends it for: chicagoans, novel readers, twenty- and thirtysomethings
This sequel to Crossing California features the same charming characters but now just a bit more grown up. Michelle Wasserstrom is a riot, and I imagine Muley just like all the other Art Institute and Columbia College grads who lived and smoked outside my front door a few years back.

As a Chicagoan, I missed a bit of Chicago as character, but I'm not a North Sider so that might be why. What was more important is that Langer hits the nail on the head in his development and consistency in the chara
Mar 12, 2011 Jazz rated it it was amazing
i enjoyed reading "crossing California", so i was glad to come across the sequel in my local library. i read the book slowly at first but found myself thinking about the characters in book during my day. i soon sat down and read the book and finished it.

i enjoyed how thoroughly the author detailed the book. the characters have such a depth, even when there is so many of them. i didn't tire of reading it, because i loved all the characters in the first place and the new ones that come up are jus
Apr 06, 2009 suz rated it it was amazing
After finishing Crossing California at the end of 2008, I immediately went out and bought this sequel. Langer fills up each and every page with the same punchy characters and pizzaz. The second helping of his formula wasn't better than the first book, but just as good. Plain and simple: these characters are fantastic! For me, the best part was the focus on the relationship between a grandma and her granddaughter as I learned that I am not the only person in the (fictional) world that has a hard ...more
Jun 22, 2007 Elysabeth rated it liked it
Unlike Crossing California, which I loved, I have mixed feelings about The Washington Story. I still love Langer's rambling style, without dialogue, except for certain situations. I loved being reconnected with Muley and Jill, and Michelle and Larry. (I also loved the new quirky characters--Bibi and Hillel...) I liked moving past Chicago and into the greater world.

I just did NOT love the length of the book. It went on. And on. And on! There were times that I felt so frustrated by the book that
Serena.. Sery-ously?
Ho amato tantissimo (anni e anni fa) "I giorni felici di California Avenue" che avevo lasciato con un po' di amaro in bocca.. quando ho scoperto che esisteva un sequel, ho fatto carte false per averlo, poi è subentrato il timore de "Non so se è all'altezza del primo e se se sono pronta a rimanere delusa da Langer" e.. Una volta trovato il coraggio di affrontarlo, ho confermato le mie paure.
Non ho trovato l'atmosfera e la particolarità che mi avevano conquistato nel primo volume, non ho riconosci
Deb Oestreicher
Engaging, compulsively readable sequel to Crossing California. Full of nostalgia for those of us who started college in the early 80s. Langer beautifully manages a very large cast of characters, particularly those in the process of coming of age. In a way, Crossing California was about this too, I realize. The Washington Story reminds you that for many of us the journey to becoming "adult" never ends.
Jan 24, 2008 Allison rated it really liked it
I had no idea Langer had written a sequel to Crossing California, so I was thrilled to come across this on Amazon. Definitely not as good as its predecessor (I think mostly because the main characters have all aged and left Chicago), I am giving it 4 stars because I really did enjoy finding out what happened to Jill, Muley, Michelle, et al. Langer's wit is still present, as was my interest in these characters.
Aug 02, 2007 Cat rated it it was ok
the sequel to crossing california. i'd been itching to read this. this book takes the crew into the 80s and pivotal global events, cultural phenomena serve as milemarkers for the setting. lots of promise but i was pretty disappointed. characters who were genine, real in washington story became predictable and their behavior almost gimmicky. it was a lot harder getting through this one. my expectations might have been way too high since i loved washington story so much.
Feb 14, 2008 Elaine rated it liked it
This book got my attention because of how close to home it hit, literally and figuratively. Langer evokes the brick walk-ups and Praie style houses with their snow-frosted lawns of Rogers Park vividly. Even his more aware '80s references are appropriate and funny. Langer has a talent for painting his characters' foibles and insecurities through use of humor. Like others have said, this book needs some major paring-down. It is 100 pages too long!
Jul 11, 2007 Jon rated it liked it
As others have mentioned, this wasn't nearly as entertaining as Crossing California but a fun read anyway. If you've ever finished a great book and wondered what happened to the characters next, this is your chance to do just that. My only disappointment with this one is that it didn't quite seem to capture the character of Chicago as well as California did.
Jun 12, 2008 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who went to Jewish day school anytime around the fall of the Soviet Union
Shelves: fiction, jewish
This is the sequel to Crossing California. If you ever owned a piece of clothing emblazoned with "I [fill in witty action here] at [fill in name of kid]'s bar mitzvah," you'll especially enjoy snickering at Adam Langer's characters and re-entering the universe in which even the stoners are still named Hillel.
Jul 05, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, chicago
Bought this on impulse at the Book Cellar a few months ago. Didn't realize it was a sequel at the time, so I waited until I read
Crossing California.
Nov 15, 2007 Missy rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: nobody
I found this book to be so disappointing. I enjoyed the first book in this series, Crossing California. This book however was slow moving, difficult to get into. I actually never finished it, which if you knew me at all, is really amazing.
Oct 24, 2008 Meg rated it liked it
I wasn't a big fan of Crossing California; however, this sequel is much more enjoyable. Although the characters were much better developed this time, I'm not sure people who haven't lived in Chicago will enjoy this.
May 03, 2008 Gregg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicago
A good one. A rich, deep cast of characters navigating a morass of issues: sexual, political, family, etc. It's a sequel to Crossing California, which I should probably take a look at.
Jul 29, 2008 änna rated it really liked it
Not quite as good as Crossing California, but wonderful if you fell in love with those characters (which I did!)
Mar 22, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Not quite as good as the first, but it's still fun to dive back in and see how the characters turn out during the 1980s. I am still hoping he goes for the trilogy.
Natasha Witte
Jul 25, 2011 Natasha Witte rated it liked it
I liked the characters less in the sequel, but I still find the Muley storyline compelling and I love the descriptions of both NYC and Chicago, during the 80's.
Dec 05, 2007 Suz rated it it was amazing
This is the sequel to Crossing California,which, I have not read yet. I was somehow able to comprehend everything in this book even though I like to do things bassackwards.
Jul 01, 2007 Don rated it liked it
This is a follow-up to "Crossing California", about high-school/college age kids in the Jewish West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago in the mid to late 1970's.
Ericka Fluellen
Sep 06, 2009 Ericka Fluellen rated it liked it
a fictional portrait of chicago in the 1980s, when harold washington managed to become the city's first black mayor. Told from the perspective of teenagers and youg adults.
Apr 17, 2007 Maura rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, chicago
I'm not normally so into sequels, but seeing as I didn't want Crossing California to end, this book was more than welcome.
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Adam Langer is a journalist, author, playwright and filmmaker.

His work has been featured most recently on NPR's Selected Shorts, in The Best Men's Stage Monologues 2000, and The Best Women's Stage Monologues 2000, as well as in the Chicago Reader's Fiction Issue, and in the literary magazine Salt Hill. His plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and numerous othe
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