10 Quintessential Books That Reflect the Awesomeness of Orange County

Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel (2004)

If J.D. Salinger and Sofia Coppola collaborated on a pitch-perfect teenage narrativePanda voice, it might sound like Stella Parrish, the 17-year-old protagonist of Seigel’s smart and touching debut novel. Bound for an Ivy League college, Stella counts down her final days at an Irvine high school taking pointless AP exams and making dutiful visits to her suicidal grandfather. Seigel, who grew up in Woodbridge, said she wouldn’t be the artist she is without Irvine. “Still to this day, I work best within confines. So Irvine for me was kind of a box that got me thinking—what I didn’t like about that box, or how I felt in that box. And then I became a little more self‑aware and a little bit more creative, and sort of started thinking about life.”

FIRST LINE  This afternoon in drama (I’m taking it because Mrs. Amis said I needed to show interest in the arts
on my transcript, and I can’t draw) I was supposed to be throwing a fake beach ball up and down, but I just couldn’t
do it anymore.”