Claire Vaye Watkins' novel Gold Fame Citrus begins with a great deal of promise, but Watkins gets lost in the weeds of complexity, dangling too many plot points and then trying to tie them together artificially at the end.
The set-up is great: the California drought has reached epic proportions, and California, for so many Americans, is the dream of America, the hope and aspirations of a life that is larger than life. That is gone in Watkins’ novel. And with the dream gone, something has been lost from the fabric of American life and it will never return.
After the characters leave California for the Dune Sea, Watkins loses control of her novel. She does not sustain the drive of the set-up. So, although this is a good novel, it falls flat in most of the major areas of novel writing, particularly character development and the forward motion of the plot.