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The Optimistic Decade

Fiction: Literary; Humor
Unabridged   11.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 05/01/2018

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The Optimistic Decade

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684411788
Digital Download ISBN:9781684411795


You say you want a revolution? This energetic and entertaining novel about a utopian summer camp and its charismatic leader asks smart questions about good intentions gone terribly wrong.

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Product Description

Framed by the oil shale bust and the real estate boom, by protests against Reagan and against the Gulf War, The Optimistic Decade takes us into the lives of five unforgettable characters, and is a sweeping novel about idealism, love, class, and a piece of land that changes everyone who lives on it.

There is Caleb Silver, the beloved founder of the back-to-the-land camp Llamalo, who is determined to teach others to live simply. There are the ranchers, Don and son Donnie, who gave up their land to Caleb, having run out of options after Exxon came and went and left them bankrupt. There is Rebecca Silver, determined to become an activist like her father and undone by the spell of Llamalo and new love; and there is David, a teenager who has turned Llamalo into his personal religion. But situated on a plateau in the heart of the Rockies, Llamalo proves that it might outlast anyone's heady plans for it, from the earliest Native American settlers to the latest lovers of the land.

Like Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, Heather Abel's novel is a brilliant exploration of the bloom and fade of idealism and how it forever changes one's life. Or so we think.


“Tanya Eby is an upbeat and energetic narrator whose energy is put to good use in portraying these widely different characters.” —AudioFile

“Funny and ruefully astute.” —People

A “politically and psychologically acute debut… A strong sense of time and place anchors the story, and Abel’s well-crafted plot brings all the strands of the story together into a suspenseful yet believable conclusion. Without landing heavily on any political side, and without abandoning hope, Abel’s novel lightly but firmly raises questions about how class and cultural conflicts play out in the rural West.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“This is an excellent coming-of-age tale with a sympathetic cast of characters. …a realistic, romantic, and thought-provoking story.” —Library Journal Starred Review

“The best, worst, right, and left of America’s ideologies mash up in The Optimistic Decade.” —New York Magazine

“Abel’s timely debut is bound to draw comparisons to The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. The Optimistic Decadefollows five characters in Reagan-era America, and explores the limits of idealism and the complexities of well-intentioned activism.” —Entertainment Weekly

Author Bio

Heather Abel was raised in Santa Monica, California. She attended Swarthmore College and subsequently worked as a reporter and editor for political newspapers. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in fiction from the New School.