Eighteen-year-old Beth arrives in Europe with a naivete that is matched only by her bravado. The daughter of an aging hippie who runs a commune in memory of his dead wife, Beth is determined to explore the world her father so vehemently eschews. Cesare is a young Italian whose family history is deeply rooted in traditions that seem unbreakable. When they meet on a small Greek island, they are immediately drawn to the sense of 'otherness' they see in each other. As their bond deepens, so do the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that keep preventing them from living happily ever after. But still, 'What they wanted was to live something unlivable, step inside the lost chance.'
McPhee is an extremely talented writer, and her detailed descriptions of sun-soaked Grecian beaches, overstuffed yet cozy New York apartments, and wide open Pennsylvanian orchards are as emotionally charged as her explorations of irrepressible love and cataclysmic grief. On occasion, her strong narrative voice seems to overpower her characters, but she always knows just when to come back to the raw beauty of Beth and Cesare's story. It is that purity, both of love and of loss, that makes L'America a gorgeous treasure to behold. --Gisele Toueg