A young woman embarks on a life-changing cross-country trip to face a family secret rooted in America's most turbulent decade. Layla James, a recent graduate and budding photographer, never knew anything about her father except that he named her for the iconic song by Eric Clapton. Her mother--steeped in a political activism that Layla rejects--kept their past shrouded in secrecy, and when she dies of cancer, she leaves only an enigmatic letter--the first in a series that will lead Layla through a cross-country network of '60s radicals and closer to the bombshell at the heart of her parents' past. As Layla makes her way from the East Coast to a commune in the California desert, she discovers more about friendship, love, forgiveness, and the personal repercussions of political activism than she could ever have imagined. A stirring and panoramic story, viewed through the lens of the next generation, this exceptional debut novel brings the gestalt of the '60s into focus and sheds new light on the era's legacy in the new millennium.
From the Back Cover
"Céline Keating's deftly plotted novel takes readers on a gripping journey along the underground railroad of post-'60s radicalism. . . . Every adult has to reinterpret the story of her childhood. Keating beautifully demonstrates the courage it takes for each of us to face that bittersweet truth."
--LARRY DARK, Director of The Story Prize
"A beautiful book--at once nostalgic and fresh--that will go straight to your heart and lodge there."
--ALETHEA BLACK, author of I Knew You'd Be Lovely
"[An] emotional page-turner. Layla's coming to terms with her parents' dangerous activism is heart wrenching due to Keating's delightfully drawn characters. This novel also serves as a compelling lesson in our values and how drastically they've changed. It serves as a better history than any essay or screed."
--SUSAN BRAUDY, author of Family Circle
"As Layla James drives cross-country, following the cryptic directions of her late mother, she meets a wide and sharply drawn group of veteran radicals who all play a part in the search for her mysterious father. . . . Keating keeps the pace fast and the suspense high . . . You'll want to ride with her every mile of the way!"
--ROBERT HERSHON, editor of Hanging Loose Press
"A fast-moving story of family secrets, political intrigue, and a young woman's coming of age. Layla is a rare combination of a novel that is both suspenseful and insightful, narrated by a character who is charming, intelligent, appealing, and most importantly, honest. . . . a gripping tale and a memorable read."
--CON LEHANE, author of Death at the Old Hotel
"A triumph of political literature . . . as informative as it is impossible to put down."
--MARNIE MUELLER, author of My Mother's Island
"Evoked in beautiful prose and telling details . . . [Layla] brings to life the complexity of family dynamics, with all its conflicts, dangers and rewards."
--NAHID RACHLIN, author of Persian Girls: A Memoir
"A wrenching look at the human costs of activism and the resiliency of love."
--HELEN SCHULMAN, author of A Day at the Beach
"Unfolds like a finely calibrated psychological mystery. . . . In Layla, Céline Keating has created an unforgettable character who is by turns exasperating, funny, courageous and fiercely loyal. Layla's journey toward understanding of her past and present evokes both the idealism and danger of the '60s, which resonate to this day."
--SUSAN SEGAL, author of Aria
242 pages, $18.95
Fiction : Literary
Fiction : Political
Fiction : Contemporary Women