A woman seeks refuge in the hot California desert, far away from the pressures of her sick husband and dying father. On a hike, she finds a large cactus with a hole big enough to walk through—which she does, taking her first steps on an adventure of reflection, grief and spirituality. Full of dark humor and self awareness, Death Valley (5 hours) traces one woman’s surreal desert experience as she faces the hard truths she’s been running from.
Author Melissa Broder narrates the audiobook herself, starting the story with a dry tone that matches the protagonist’s straightforward voice. But her inner world runs deep, and Broder captures the subtleties of the character and her changes, embodying both her surface-level distance and her turbulent emotions underneath. In a story that blurs the line between the real and the spiritual, Broder gives a voice to the rawness of being a living, transforming, growing human.
Death Valley is a grueling journey, but it’s also sharp and insightful. It does not present easy solutions. Instead, it explores how one woman learns to see herself as part of a larger whole that celebrates pain and pleasure, restraint and intimacy, death and life.