Caram first began this trilogy in 1991 with Dear Corpus Christi, while at an artist retreat. The second title, Rena: A Late Journey was inspired by a visit to Corpus Christi thirty years later that revealed a changed community struggling through hard times and now with the publication of Looking for Johnny, Caram brings the series to a close.
Elizabeth narrates Dear Corpus Christi through journaling and tells of the difficulties living in a repressive time and place where her needs frequently slam against moral conventions and family expectations. Torn between dreams of New York and Hollywood’s glittering lights and the love of a solid local man, Elizabeth must choose between the two.
Rena: A Late Journey is told by Elizabeth’s ninety-two year old Aunt Rena who lived life to the fullest, a wild figure at a time when women were expected to behave with straight-laced decorum. A return journey back to Corpus Christi reveals a community literally carved up by a new freeway, facing the violence of drug runners, racial tensions and poverty. Rena’s sweet story recounts an idyllic past while clearly seeing the multitude of problems facing today’s changed community.
The concluding novella, Looking For Johnny follows private investigator John Shearer’s attempts to find out what happened to Rena’s long lost brother who set off to look for work, never to return. Told in the third person, Caram invites readers to learn more about assorted family members while trying to figure out what happened to Johnny all those years ago.
Poignant, bittersweet and worldly wise, this trilogy examines life with all its disappointments and high points yet avoids becoming maudlin. Caram delights readers by exploring the boundless grace of solid friendships set in a town struggling to cope with changing times. A triumphant celebration of life in the face of heartache, pain and love, definitely love.
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