California has perhaps produced more than its share of stories about adults behaving badly. But state also provides the setting for tales of kids coping with the results of decisions that grown-ups have made. The novels in the list below use various narrative strategies to focus on pre-adolescence, a time when children don’t completely understand what is happening to them. Readers may find that the novels don’t go down quite as easily as the short stories in My Name Is Aram. All the authors, incidentally, are better known for other books.
1. Transfer Point by Kathryn Forbes. A fatherless life told from the perspective of a ten-year-old girl.
2. Solitaire by Edwin Corle. A realistic fantasy about the relationship of a young girl and a homeless man who camps near her house.
3. We Lived as Children by Kathryn Hulme. A retrospective account of the effects of divorce on three children and their mother.
4. Valley Boy by Theodore Pratt. A surprisingly realistic story of a lonesome boy, a friendly sea lion and their suburban neighborhood.
5. Marm Lisa by Kate Wiggin. A plea for social action presented as a story of a neglected girl and her sympathetic kindergarten teacher.
Library copies are available for all the books. Only the last one, however, which is in print, has a free Kindle edition, and can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg, offers easy access.