So I think I understand what Huneven was trying to do with this novel. I think she was trying to talk about how addiction affects us all and that it supercedes class and that the guilt that we all carry around inside may or may not be justified or earned, but we all need to live through it and with it and just "take each day one at a time" and get through. BUT, the mechanism for this novel was so unbelievably trite and annoying that I just couldn't see past the awful construction of the story.
First, how is it that every character (even seemingly random ones at first) all know each other? It turns out that there is just one big social circle here and they are all super wealthy (except Patsy, who is described as somewhat white trash in the beginning but exceptionally bright and then..oh yeah..at the end turns out to have a father just like Cal...a successful business-man of a father) and there are just no people in this whole thing that are outside of the circle. Except maybe Lewis.
Second, why/how do Brice and Patsy remain friends? He is a closet gay and she is white trash (at least portrayed that way in the beginning) and she is whisked off to jail and he remains her friend? Even though he is selfish and flightly and everything else? What motivation does he have to remain friends with her through her 2 years in jail? Certainly as a story, Huneven doesn't have much left if she can think of no other mechanism by which she can introduce Patsy back into the very exclusive circle of people in which the WHOLE BOOK TAKES PLACE.
Third, Gilles has AIDS. Really? Really? We have to do the whole, this is a gay book about the 1980s and so someone has to die of AIDS. Really? Can't we just skip that part?
Fourth, Patsy is innocent? This is the plot twist? This is the big hook that compels the reader? No, this is supposed to be a character piece and (from my first paragraph above) a commentary on life and getting through and addiction. We don't fucking care if she is guilty or innocent. Don't try to plug it in as a plot driven twist; that is just lame.
Overall, I was expecting something a little less contrived and with more depth.