Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A wild romp through the foggy waters of love, loss, and friendship
To serve your time or go golfing? That is the ultimate question.
Kimo Jones was a high school teacher before he got busted for drunk driving. He’s already serving his time when the story opens—just weeks away from being released. Too bad he doesn’t make it there.
With an annual golf outing just days away, Kimo escapes on the water during his volunteer time outside. He finds his way to a nearby wedding, where he comes into contact with Rachel, a smoking-hot young lady who will take any excuse to get away from her family for some excitement and, lucky for Kimo, get into his pants.
What follows is a raucous misadventure filled with twists, turns, sex, laughs, and heartfelt moments. When Kimo discovers that Michelle, his missed chance at love, is dying, his escape for some golfing fun turns into a sweet attempt to make Michelle happy before she moves on to the great foggy bridge in the sky.
Doing Time In California is just as loose and carefree as you can hope out of a comedy novel. Yes, we’re dealing with death and an escaped convict, but each page in here is just a reminder that this world might be too heavy for us to take our lives so seriously. If you’re in the mood for some wild antics and a sexy leading lady, this novel is going to leave you feeling satisfied.
The novel does tackle humor in a lot of the right ways, but the way in which it treats Rachel diminishes that a bit. I love her carefree attitude and her obvious desire to get busy. She could play a really big role in Kimo’s turnaround while also manifesting her own desires and goals. Instead, she’s used as a flat character who is there for sexual relief, escape, and very little else. There are a few lines in here that swing and miss on race and sexuality, too.
The plot is at its strongest when we fear that Kimo may be caught, when he’s unravelling the truth about Michelle, and when he’s figuring out what to do to make her last days feel special. I really love the way Kimo and the crew switches gears when they need to switch gears, treating this impending-loss with as much care as it should be treated with. There are a few sections in here, like the elongated bit about Kimo and his grandparents, that feel like diversions that go on for too long, but we always make our way back to the heart of the matter in the end.
Doing Time in California is unexpected, goofy, outlandish, and capable of a good time.
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