Those People Behind Us

A Novel

Fiction - Literary
311 Pages
Reviewed on 08/11/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Mary Camarillo is the author of the award-winning novel The Lockhart Women. Her awards include the 2022 Indie Author Award for California Adult fiction, the 2022 Willa Literary Award Finalist in Multiform Fiction, and the 2021 First Place Award in the Next Generation Indies for First Fiction.

Her second novel Those People Behind Us will be published in October of 2023. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in publications such as TAB Journal, 166 Palms, Sonora Review, and The Ear.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The literary fiction novel Those People Behind Us by Mary Camarillo is set in a suburban neighborhood in Wellington Beach, where a compilation of residents contend with personal strife and intersecting lives. Keith Nelson, having clashed with his father, lives in his car; Ray Murdoch tends to his own mother; Josh Kowalski copes with his father's abandonment, while Jeannette Larson seeks solace in reckless behavior following the loss of her son. Lisa Kensington, a proactive realtor, opposes the construction of low-income housing nearby, triggering political demonstrations that disrupt the community's tranquility. As tensions escalate, these individuals and others find themselves drawn together by circumstance, shedding light on the complexities of human connection and societal change in contemporary California.

The standout theme to me in Those People Behind Us by Mary Camarillo are issues that surround social activism, generational differences, and economic disparities, which Camarillo manages beautifully through the thoughts and interactions of her characters. There is a scene where Monique is at a protest and the discussion on socioeconomic inequality is an organic piece of the commentary, and it is executed really authentically. This dialogic realism extends into every single line and is most often coming from within a vibrant atmosphere. I loved the layers of subtext that offer glimpses of underlying tensions and controversial viewpoints, sometimes not even coming directly from the characters themselves. "The city council wants names, and they want arrests..." Overall, Those People Behind Us is an insightful and immersive tale and I am certain those who read it will enjoy it as well. Very highly recommended.

Kirkus Review

“ . . . . we all need to step back from our prejudices and assumptions, take a deep breath, and realize that we are all in this together . . . . mesmerizing . . . . A worthwhile read with characters who grapple with timely political conundrums.”

Victoria Patterson

“The stakes are high and the ground unstable in the fictional town of Wellington Beach where even a real estate agent’s seemingly innocuous pamphlets are loaded with undercurrents of significance and menace. Yet Camarillo’s novel offers hope, and, because of her facility with characters, I found myself unabashedly rooting for the fallible and suffering Wellington community.”
—Victoria Patterson, author of The Secret Habit of Sorrow and The Little Brother

J. Ryan Stradal

“Camarillo has crafted another winner! Those People Behind Us is a beautiful, propulsive masterwork of empathy.”
—J. Ryan Stradal, author of New York Times bestseller Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Sara Flannery Murphy

“A gripping read that captures the pettiness, complexity, and surprising tenderness of living in a suburban environment.”
—Sara Flannery Murphy, author of Girl One and The Wonder State

Suzanne Simonetti

“Fans of Liane Moriarty will savor the raw suspense and mystery Camarillo has skillfully woven. Juxtaposed against the bright and sunny Southern California sky, this multigenerational tale takes a deep dive into the minds and motivations of a seemingly harmless neighborhood as it strips back each dark and complicated layer, piece by piece.”
— Suzanne Simonetti, USA Today best-selling author of The Sound of Wings

Shelley Blanton-Stroud

“Thoughtful and riveting. In Those People Behind Us, Mary Camarillo trains an astute yet empathetic eye on the residents of one Southern California planned community in the year 2017, dissecting the mental and emotional cracks in our foundation at the brink of the Trump era.”
—Shelley Blanton-Stroud, author of Copy Boy and TomBoy

Midwest Book Review

“Those People Behind Us is a thought-provoking novel that will leave readers pondering the power of unity in the face of adversity. Prepare to be captivated by this compelling story. Camarillo should be proud of the new literary masterpiece that is sure to captivate readers around the globe. This novel boasts a cast of well-developed and compelling characters, each with a unique voice. With its heartwarming hometown feel, the story delves into the lives of these characters as they navigate the challenges of real-life problems. Prepare to be enchanted by this special offering.”
—Midwest Book Review

Nick Schou

"The vivid characters that populate Mary Camarillo’s fictional community of Wellington Beach are a testament to the author’s deep knowledge of a very real and fascinating terrain. Their intersecting lives and backstories add a technicolor verisimilitude to her highly engaging new novel.”
—Nick Schou, author of Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World and Kill the Messenger