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Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

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Welcome to LA? Nineties' Hollywood gets an Italian makeover in this poignant and ruefully funny coming-of-age novel featuring a teenage girl who's on shaky ground—in more ways than one.  Mere weeks after the 1992 riots that laid waste to Los Angeles, Eugenia, a typical Italian teenager, is rudely yanked from...

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Welcome to LA? Nineties' Hollywood gets an Italian makeover in this poignant and ruefully funny coming-of-age novel featuring a teenage girl who's on shaky ground—in more ways than one. 


Mere weeks after the 1992 riots that laid waste to Los Angeles, Eugenia, a typical Italian teenager, is rudely yanked from her privileged Roman milieu by her hippie-ish filmmaker parents and transplanted to the strange suburban world of the San Fernando Valley. With only the Virgin Mary to call on for guidance as her parents struggle to make it big, Hollywood fashion, she must navigate her huge new public high school, complete with Crips and Bloods and Persian gang members, and a car-based environment of 99-cent stores and obscure fast-food franchises and all-night raves. She forges friendships with Henry, who runs his mother's movie memorabilia store, and the bewitching Deva, who introduces her to the alternate cultural universe that is Topanga Canyon. And then the 1994 earthquake rocks the foundations not only of Eugenia's home but of the future she'd been imagining for herself.

  • Author: Chiara Barzini
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 320
  • Size: 5.5 x 8
  • Publisher: Doubleday

An Italian teenage girl shows up in 1990s Southern California in this culturally astute, strong-voiced novel. Barzini, truly a writer to watch, positions herself astride both American and Sicilian cultures, and packs this visceral book with strong sensations from both. The novel and its heroine, Eugenia, are deeply seductive."New York Times

"There are sex and drugs aplenty but also sweet, tender moments of first love and self-acceptance. Los Angeles is dirtily yet lovingly depicted… Barzini’s is an impressive debut with a distinct point of view.”
—Booklist

Explore here the assimilation into American culture of an Italian teenager coming of age.

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