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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.