Review: Catalina: A Novel

by Liska Jacobs (FSG Originals, 2017)

Good summer reading escape! Elsa goes from Mr. Wrong to Mr. Worse in this self-destructive Ferris wheel of misadventures. Set in glittery Southern California, land of fallen angels and illusions, this literary bad-girl of a book delivers layered, interior character development via a fast-lane, first-person point of view. On the outside, Elsa is a gorgeous, well-off, 30-ish assistant-curator in the high-stakes art industry. Inside, she’s an alienated, lovesick, unemployed drifter with a serious dedication to drinking and pills of many colors.

When she’s invited by old friends to sail away for a party weekend on idyllic Catalina Island, what could go wrong? Elsa—still pining over very-married Eric, her former boss who dumped her—plunges into many emotional twists and turns. Debut novelist Liska Jacobs truly nails the details of setting: an island resort, a romantic sailboat, Los Angeles, the art world. Elsa may not be a reliable friend, but her story makes for a fun beach read if you’re in the mood for a wounded, gritty heroine who gets swept in new directions. In order to emerge from her damaged childhood and recent break-up, Elsa’s only way is forward. With some detours into sex, drugs, drinking, and once-in-awhile: self-reflection. This review is based on an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.


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Karen Lewis