Friday, January 1, 2016

And West is West, by Ron Childress

Behind the headlines, the lives and loves of today's young people look a little different than they used to.  In Ron Childress's And West is West, two young people in positions that were unimaginable just a generation ago have to recreate their lives after they are pushed out the door in their respective positions.  Ethan writes the code that helps his bank make billions on arbitrage trading of foreign currency.  A decimal error (or a planted decimal error) loses the bank millions in seconds, and he finds himself jobless.  Jessica sits in a desert warehouse in Nevada flying drone missions in the Middle East.  When one mission goes wrong, she leaves the Air Force and lives under the radar.

Childress brings these two parallel stories together in an interesting way.  Readers will dwell on consequences, family histories, and the realities of the fast-moving, accelerated way the modern workforce can become distant from their actual work.  Part of me became frustrated that Jessica and Ethan's stories had so little to do with each other.  Even though Childress introduced the personal link rather late, he ultimately makes it work.

The story of the characters' lives does not to be as epic as the roles they played, or potentially played, in their careers.  Childress focusses on the drama of relationships and family, not on the global implications of the buttons Ethan and Jessica pushed.  As the world becomes more interconnected, and as finance and warfare become more impersonal, linking consequences to our actions and faces to our interactions becomes more tenuous.  And West is West illustrates that reality well.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book written by a first-time author

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