“Coming of Age in Berkeley” by Jake Warner


Jake Warner
Courtyard Editions (2018)
ISBN 9780692106433
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (04/19)

Jake Warner gives readers a great story about coming of age which is so different from the usual reads in “Coming of Age in Berkeley.” What I appreciate most is it is not the usual coming from poverty, discover love and all ends well type of story. He provides great conflict with modern day issues with relationships.

Tamiko “Tami” Gashkin, a gifted high school student, is taking summer classes at UC Berkeley campus where, not only is she younger than a majority of students, she also lacks real-life experiences. Excelling in all areas of school and intelligence, she accidentally meets Alec Burns a funny, intelligent student that happens be 22 years-old to Tamiko’s 15.  Tamiko lives with her overprotective widowed mother who has difficulty with Tamiko growing up and making her own decisions. I found this part of the story to be compelling in a couple of ways in that a majority of us as parents have some difficulty with letting our children spread their wings. Today we find many high school students taking college courses on campus due to advances in technology and ability to get college credit for some high school courses.

Tamiko’s mother Amy is just a bit over the top in trying to control her friends, activities and free time. She believes Tamiko is socially unsophisticated and has never been on a date, which for some would be a valid concern. At the same time, Amy is in a relationship with Ed who is all around great, but at the same time, he feels Amy should start letting go of Tamiko. Tamiko’s dad died as a result of a car accident, and it has had an enormous impact on both she and her mom.

Just when you think “Coming of Age in Berkeley” is going to be your humdrum story, the author fires up the action and presents readers with Max. Max is a vengeful man from Amy’s past intent on resuming his evil actions. Completely drawn into this new scenario, I thought the author did an excellent job of transitioning to this new phase of the story. Not only does he keep his characters in their given roles, he allows them to seamlessly make changes when needed. The dialogue is genuine, exactly how we would expect it to be in any given situation.

I recommend “Coming of Age in Berkeley” by Jake Warner for its modern-day twist and revelation of how our past sometimes revisits. The writing is superb.

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