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Wonder Valley

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,572 ratings  ·  263 reviews
When a teen runs away from his father’s mysterious commune, he sets in motion a domino effect that will connect six characters desperate for hope and love, set across the sun-bleached canvas of Los Angeles.

From the acclaimed author of Visitation Street, a visionary portrait of contemporary Los Angeles in all its facets, from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific, from the
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,572 ratings  ·  263 reviews

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Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pagehabit
remember when Visitation Street came out and the world was abuzz with ivy pochoda fever?

it was during a particularly robust strain of brooklynophilia in the book biz, and my otherborough self was skeptical about the need for yet another paean to brooklyn, but it was such a phenomenal achievement, i ended up giving it a four star review on here.*

and then not a peep out of her for four years.

but if it takes four years to produce something this good, i’m willing to be patient.

since Visitation Street, pochoda switched
Diane S ☔
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A man is running down the Hollywood freeway, he is completely nude, seemingly without a care in the world. As the cars sit in the usual crawling traffic, another man, a man on impulse will leave his car sitting in traffic and take off running, following the naked man. This is the beginning of this novel, which will take us from the streets of Los Angeles, to skid row and out to a desert commune with a divergent group of characters.

THey are lost souls, trying to escape either somethin
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I finished reading this feeling emotionally battered and entranced by Ivy Pochoda's raw, intelligent, complex imaginative and multilayered storytelling with its gripping picture of contemporary Los Angeles. This is an intense literary read, gritty, immersive and memorable. On a usual packed commute, interest is caught by the slightly surreal sight of a completely naked young man running on a LA freeway, apparently indifferent to those around him, making the local news and attracting the attentio ...more
Andrew Smith
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigo-press
It’s morning rush hour on LA’s Highway 110 and there’s a naked runner dashing between traffic, making his way to who knows where. As car radios feed updates to commuters and helicopter spotters fly overhead some, sat in their cars, see the runner. One even decides to abandon his car and give chase. In this way we are introduced to a number of people who are to feature later in the book. This is a story of Los Angeles people but it’s also a story of others – mainly poor, damaged people - who rove ...more

”All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”

Eleanor Rigby – John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Shock Value. Violence. Overcrowded freeways, overcrowded lives. Living on the edge, physically, mentally, financially, and what follows when they break away. Life beyond the edge, beyond rules.

The man runs down the freeway, he has shed all but his skin and his inner self, running as though he i/>”All
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book because I love a gritty Los Angeles novel. There are so many perspectives on this city and I am always curious to see how different writers imagine it. Pochoda is an excellent writer. She is really good, perhaps too good at creating atmosphere. Whether in downtown LA, Beverly Glen, or the California desert, she captures a vivid sense of place and the people who inhabit that place. But this is a fairly one-dimensional view of LA. Is this city as bleak as it is portrayed ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“This your story too?”

“Not really, but I’d like to know how it ends.”

Those of you who know me know that I have a serious and debilitating case of old lady brain . . . .

So the fact that I remembered Ivy Pochoda’s name after first reading one of her books nearly FOUR YEARS AGO is basically a miracle from the Baby Jeebus. However, in case any of you are now concerned that this is a marker of the end of days, have no fear. I am, after all, the braintrust who compared Pochoda’s writing
Shirley Revill
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
It took me a while to get into this story but when I did I enjoyed it immensely. I will certainly be on the lookout for more books by this author in the future.
Abbie | ab_reads
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thank you so much to @indigopress for sending me what turned out to be one of my favourite books of 2018! Isn’t it wonderful when you don’t really have any expectations for a book and it comes along and completely blows you away? I accepted the request to work with Indigo Books reviewing their releases because I liked their mission statement, they are a new company and I wanted to help out, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the authors... And gosh was I happily surprised!
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This tale starts the pace with a retrospective look on one morning in suburbia stuck in traffic whilst man running in a kind suit or lack of suit.
Some fine writing within, in the thick of that first scene and has you hooked in the need to know, the undoing of the scene how did the tale get to that timeline in all the wonder.
Over the timeline of 24 hours there are many journeyings in Los Angeles starting with the bizarre one of a man running to or from something, then the chapter shif
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
You know you have discovered a truly talented author when they can instantly transport you to a place you have never encountered before, and that is exactly what happened to me here. The setting of Los Angeles is one that may be immediately recognisable thanks in part to various television programmes, however, Ms Pochoda's tale is about the side of LA that is rarely seen and certainly not advertised on TV. The city setting has been made one of the major characters in this wonderful novel. The si ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It had great ingredients: deep, dark intersecting characters, shifting perspectives, movements in time and cold, hard truths. This is like no LA story I’ve ever glitz, more down, out and lost; it was a fascinating portrait of the other side.
But the characters never hooked me. I could relate to their search and their guilt but no one ever lived up to the books opening scene of a naked runner on the freeway. Well-written but unsatisfying.
LAPL Reads
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a gift from the library universe, my library hold for Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda became available during the December holidays, and I had downtime to spend reading. The book opens with a man running naked through rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles, drawing police and television reporters in hot pursuit. I thought, this book has potential to show what we're living with here in LA.

Multiple characters whose lives are interwoven represent different parts of Southern Californi
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Didn't have high hopes for this book but it ended up surprising me! Weaves together a cast of characters around LA after opening with a naked man running down the freeway in rush hour. Like how this showed the gritty, skid-row side of LA, not the mansions and boutiques of the 1%.
Alexander Davidson
Six lost characters find their way as their stories converge during one man's streaking on a California highway. Basically all of these character's are running from something in their past towards new lives they just can't seem to grasp. Britt tries to escape a world of college partying and disappoint but ends up on a chicken farm in the middle of a desert. Twins Owen and James dream of leaving the hippy compound where their father is a mystical healer. Blake is on the run with his buddy Sam as ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-to-read
This started out strong, with a man running inexplicably naked down an LA freeway during rush hour traffic and an introduction to the several people who are connected to the bizarre incident: Tony, a listless married lawyer; Britt, who escaped her past by running away to a commune; Ren, fresh out of juvie and searching for his mother.

It's clear that these characters' paths will intersect (or in some cases already have), and Wonder Valley weaves between their separate yet connected st
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybooks
This was a pretty good read that I discovered on my very first cruise in the Carnival Fantasy Cruise ship's library. It is about a man who is arrested for chasing a naked man through the Streets of LA and the events that happen before it that had to do with a cult and more. Definitely check this book out for yourself. It is available at your local library and anywhere books are sold.
Diane Hirt
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Although I enjoyed the ability the author provided for the reader to step into the seamy side of LA and the desert, I could not get pulled into the characters. A bit of a trudge to stick with it. I wanted so much for it to be engaging.
Lark Benobi
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
When I began to read I thought, oh great, here's a writer like T.C. Boyle, only female and young. Then it turned into a whole lotta blah-blah. Someone will like it though.
He is almost beautiful--running with the San Gabriels over one shoulder, the rise of the Hollywood Freeway as it arcs above the Pasadena Freeway over the other. He is shirtless, the hint of swimmer's muscle rippling below his tanned skin, his arms pumping in a one-two rhythm in sync with the beat of his feet. There is a chance you envy him.
* * *
His expression is midmarathon serene, focused on the goal and not yet overwhelmed by the distance. He shows no strain. But the woman in the batte
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Written with raw energy and palpable emotion, this gritty novel covers the disappearance of a teenage boy twin who runs away from his father's "spiritual" commune like structure, leading to exposing the stories of several other characters who are enterwined with one another.The story begins with a naked runner running down the California freeway with and against the traffic. A terrific hook to get the reader wanting to explore the mystery of his mission. Is he mentally disturbed? Does anyone kno ...more
Victoria Bylin
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
How do you rate a book when it's a strong story and beautifully written, but you didn't enjoy reading it? For that reason I'm averaging 5 for quality and 1 for enjoyment. That leads to a 3, but the book really deserves that 5--and the 1.

The writing is poetic and lyrical. The Los Angeles / Southern California setting is vivid. The characters come alive. I wanted to know how it ended. But the story didn't speak to my heart at all. All I could think was, "Those poor people . . . " I felt the same
Michele Harrison
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

I was so excited about this book and it started off strong with intriguing characters and a mysterious incident involving a man running naked down the 110 in Los Angeles, but before long the plot wore thin and tedious. Although there was a lot of backstory on each of the characters leading to how their lives were eventually intertwined, I felt I was never able to connect with any of them. The way the chapters skip back and forth betwe
Chelsea Bashore
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult
I received this book as an ARC from Book of the Month, but in no way was my opinion influenced.

This book was so wonderful. Set in current L.A it sort of gives you that Lalaland feel ( except gritty and less music). The setting is gritty and completely believable. The story weaves through our main characters lives past and present, and leaves use with a journey that helps you debate what it means to be a good person, how events can grip your life and run your head-space, and also leaves you just
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the writing, the settings, the grit, and most of all how the stories intertwined. I was not connected to any of the characters or particularly rooting for them. But good storytelling. A good solid 3 stars for me, I liked it overall. I would read another of this author's work.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Do you remember that movie 2 Days in the Valley that sprang up almost immediately after Pulp Fiction became a hit, hoping to capitalize on its unique storytelling mode?

Wonder Valley reminds me of that movie. I would not have read this book if I had not won a copy in a Goodreads Giveaway.

I read Ms. Pochoda's Visitation Street a few years ago and though there is no doubt she can write, I was not impressed with the story or her characters, which I hated. The same holds true for Wonder Valley.

It opens wit/>
Ann Tonks
This was a random choice from my local library and i was completely mesmerized. It's dense, dark, layered, sad, hearfelt.....the adjectives could go on and on. It was full of people I don't know. Homeless people; cult people; violent people. I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about the USA and we both concluded Arthur Miller was right all those decades ago with "Death of Salesman". The country feels as if its collapsing and this is a story about that collapse. There are still som ...more
Ilyssa Wesche
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book really surprised me - for some reason I was expecting some straight-up literary fiction about the slightly-wealthy/young & beautiful in LA, and that is NOT what I got. Which turned out to be awesome!

I was surprised to check my list to see I read her previous book, but then I remembered it - same kind of characters but a better story. However, I experienced the same kind of surprise last time - it was on the Dennis Lehane imprint but it was not a mystery by any stretch of the imagi
Mary Holstein
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
From the first page of this wonderful new novel, Ivy Pochoda draws the reader into her world of contemporary Los Angeles and the area of the Mojave Desert known as Wonder Valley. While the characters are first introduced in a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes, as the book progresses, the author skillfully merges their stories to intersect and intertwine. This group is from the seamier side of life--living each day under the radar and just trying to survive. I came away with a sense of wond ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really loved this book. The writing was beautiful and vivid, primarily in describing scenery. The settings were so clear in my mind, from the desert to skid row to the traffic jam on 110 (although, it's impossible not to overlay the prologue of this novel on the opening scene from La La Land!). The interweaving of the stories was excellently accomplished, with purpose to each decision in plot and character's actions. The whole story has a sort of noir-cloud without being an actual mystery or sus ...more
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Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Visitation Street published by Ecco / Dennis Lehane Books. Visitation Street was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Amazon Best Book of 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Huffington Post, ...more
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“You think you have it all figured out—you’ve timed your commute, you’ve fit in your weekend run or you haven’t, you’ve got life down to a science, a mathematical equation of time, interest, and energy. But one day something stands up to you, surprises you in a place where you’ve determined never to be surprised. And that’s when you run. You move fast the wrong way through traffic. You think it’s working. But something deep inside, driving the rhythm of your steps, tells you that it isn’t. So you try again. You search for that tiny space hidden in you, untouched by everything that you’ve experienced or survived.” 4 likes
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