The Optimistic Decade

The Optimistic Decade

This entertaining and assured debut novel about a utopian summer camp and its charismatic leader asks smart questions about good intentions gone terribly wrong.

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 his son, Donnie, who gave up their land to Caleb and who now want it back. There is Rebecca Silver, determined to become an activist like her father and undone by the spell of both Llamalo and new love; and there is David, a teenager who has turned Llamalo into his personal religion.

Heather Abel’s novel is a brilliant exploration of the bloom and fade of idealism and how it forever changes one’s life.

Title:The Optimistic Decade
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781616206307
Format Type:

About Heather Abel


    The Optimistic Decade Reviews

  • Cody | codysbookshelf

    “Politics was aesthetics, and everything was aesthetics, really, if you thought about it. A man in a turban and white tunic glided by on roller skates. A woman in a wheelchair held the leashes of tw...

  • Kate Olson

    Thanks to the publisher for this review copy!Colorado desert + political idealism + coming of age + hippie summer camp = a wonderfully unique story that anyone who has ever tried to change the world w...

  • Erin White

    This is one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. It’s about all sorts of interesting and complex ideas (failed utopia, 80s oil boom and bust, radicalism and its discontents) yet someho...

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    Set in the American West in the 1990s, this is a look at idealism, activism, and the feeling that you may not really be making a difference in the world. It’s been compared to The Interestings a lot...

  • Jacqueline

    This book was aiite. It almost reminded me exactly of The Interestings, which I finished not too long ago and enjoyed quite a bit (I actually read that one feverishly, on a long 11 hour plane ride, an...

  • John C

    This is a brilliant and skillful debut novel. Its intimately developed and humane characters, and ageless themes (youth and loss, false dichotemies, and flawed leaders, among others) allow a piece set...

  • Helen Fernandez

    An amazing book. Just what I needed to read lately. One of the best books I have read in years. I loved the quirky family and strong sense of place. As a SOCAL native myself, I enjoyed the references ...

  • Laura

    THE book for our crazy times. It grapples seriously with the question: how do you lead a moral life in a world full of lies and cynicism? The author doesn't give in to despair. Nor does she sugarcoat....

  • Sue Jackson

    I enjoyed this thoughtful novel about different ways to make a difference, set in the early 1990's in western Colorado, after the oil shale bust. Read my full review and interview with the author:http...

  • Jennifer

    ummm... okay. so, my feelings about this novel seem to be running counter to the majority. while i appreciated abel's writing, the story just didn't work for me. i found the characters didn't develop ...