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West Is San Francisco

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  9 reviews
When Leah lands in San Francisco, she’s hoping she can leave her past—along with her broken-down life in Seattle—behind. But what she can’t run from is her present reality as an alcoholic on the downward spiral, and the strong future possibility that she might die in the gutter. So, she quits drinking and resolves to live a new life, determined to be a better person and re ...more
Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Published January 24th 2019
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Average rating 3.18  · 
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G.C. McKay
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
West is San Francisco is the second instalment of Lauren Sapala’s semi-autobiographical West Coast Trilogy series, a transgressive fiction novel told from the perspective of Leah, the semi-functioning alcoholic of the first book, Between the Shadow and Lo. Having read the first of the three, which dealt strongly with drug and alcohol abuse by not just the protagonist but also everyone surrounding her, Sapala created a landscape I think many a young person has to unexpectedly confront when they v ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

A beautiful, beautiful book. I loved how meta it was. I loved the dry humor, and the strange, lush descriptions. One of my favorite books. Truly one of a kind. Deserves many rereads. I am so so glad Sapala kept writing and didn't listen to that awful woman (Don't we all have one of those in our lives? That part felt universal). So much love for this book.
Lynne Fisher
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After reading Between The Shadow And Lo, I couldn’t wait to read this second instalment in the West Coast Trilogy from this author. West Is San Francisco flows seamlessly on from where the first book leaves you wondering what Leah is going to find in a new city and within herself. I couldn’t believe how natural it felt to be with Leah once again, and that is testament to the writing quality which is high, and so refreshingly original and imaginatively compelling. Written in a deep first person p ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
West Is San Francisco by Lauren Sapala is a surprising read in many ways. The characters are drawn so well, feel so real that the start of the story leads the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotion. Leah, moving from Seattle to San Francisco, is an alcoholic. Leah’s voice and pain are authentic, her journey to a better place grabbing me and hauling me in. But while I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see the next step Leah would take, moments of frustration and anger at the character occur. ...more
Rhonda Paulson
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rough, gritty, colored with obsession, addiction, and demons, Leah's first-person account of her struggles are at once unnerving and eye-opening. I came into her story in the middle, yet it sucked me in, squirming all the way. Now I am anxious to go back in time to pick up the first book in search of the roots of this broken personality who, despite...or perhaps because of the darkness that has shrouded her existence, demonstrates such remarkable strength and resilience. If Leah can battle her d ...more
Michelle Cornish
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such amazing imagery!

Filled with uncomfortable topics many people like to avoid (addiction, sex, loss, inner reflection) this book is so beautifully written I couldn't put it down. Honest descriptions and vivid imagery had me glued to the page! Although this was the first book I'd read in the series, I was excited when I got to the end and learned that it's part of a trilogy! Can't wait to read more about Leah and all the characters she meets along the way.
K. Leigh
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For those of you who are fans of the increasingly popular genre of transgressive fiction, Lauren’s memoir/fiction books are a must read. Her first book, Between the Shadow and Lo, was my first dip into the waters of transgressive fiction and had me hooked from the brutally raw start. Book two does the series justice and sees us through the next stage with Leah's turbulent rebirth and journey to realization. Please read my full review at ...more
Alanna McFall
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Addiction stories can be difficult. On the surface, they can follow very similar tropes: the slow descent, the bottoming out, the moment of realization, the claw back to the surface and the hard-won victory. At first that seems to be what West Is San Francisco, a 2019 novel, is moving towards. But Lauren Sapala makes protagonist Leah’s struggle against alcoholism part of a larger tapestry of dysfunction and self-hatred in her life. She sees herself in the beginning as “a drunk”, but that ends up ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
West is San Francisco is the page-turning story of a sober alcoholic who drops booze but ends up addicted to work instead. Like all of Lauren Sapala's writing, it contains vivid descriptions of unforgettable characters, and it's honest even when it hurts. ESPECIALLY when it hurts. It is the second book of a trilogy but is very capable of standing on its own. Like Lauren's first novel, Between the Shadow and Lo, I couldn't put this down. And -- no spoilers -- when it was clear Leah was about to i ...more
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Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in coaching introverted, intuitive writers. She founded the WriteCity writing groups in Seattle and San Francisco and currently blogs about writing and creativity at ...more

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35 likes · 11 comments
“I fought the truth of my continued state of sobriety daily. Deep inside, a black storm thrashed, lashing the underside of my heart, making me bleed steadily. I still felt like I couldn’t walk by a certain kind of bar without the energy of that bar grasping its wormy phantom skeleton fingers after me, catching my long hair or pricking my cheek and leaving scratches. I couldn’t pass by without the smell of it pressing on my chest, suffocating me even as it drew me in. That’s what being sober felt like. Something like not enough oxygen.” 1 likes
“A long time ago she could have nourished herself on her own inner light, but she chose to become what she was now instead, and she exacted her revenge against her wasted destiny by drinking in the light of every artist she found with any sensitivity at all toward the intangible world behind our everyday reality, until she grew giant and swollen, like a sun which demanded that around it every planet must revolve, while the creative people she fed off grew dimmer, until they were like a dying fire, stars winking out until nothing was left but impenetrable darkness.
And how would I tell Artie I knew all this? That I had poked around in her head and the heads of anyone who came near her for the past eight months and I just felt it?
Yeah, right.”
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