The author provided me with a free copy of this book.
This is not a book to read in snatches while commuting to work or a page turner to make a long airline flight tolerable.This is a book that demands sustained attention and slow, continuous reading. So get your chores done, go to the gym, turn off your phone, find a comfortable chair away from activity and settle in for several hours of pleasure and inspiration. If you are impatient for the story to begin, the book will be over and you will have missed it.
The outline plot is simple. Five searching souls come together in San Francisco, the world falls apart, and they flee for a remote place in Canada. It's not an apocalyptic thriller, everything is realistic, and the mudslides, riots, crimes and other disasters (perhaps not the satellite collisions) are things in the news every day, not Armageddon.
The subtext is one of interlocking cycles, reminiscent of The Unbearable Lightness of Being (in fact, if you transplant the Prague Spring of that book to the near-contemporaneous Summer of Love in San Francisco you get a fair approximation of Exit From America). The optimism, freedom and spirituality of late 1960s hippies recycles to a more mature and technological version, the death of a beloved spouse sends one protagonist on a boomerang journey; in the external world things cascade into ever larger problems, but the five main characters, at least, have been captured by a gravitational pull that keeps them in periodic orbits, however much their position and velocities are shocked. Moreover their cycles align, not because they are pulled along by each other, but because they find a certain kind of harmony among themselves.
The style reminds me of comic books with some narrative of the past in a small sub-panel at the top ("Clark Kent rushed back to the Daily Planet but found Lois Lane had left for the courthouse. . .") and a present tense dialog picture in the main panel (picture of Clark Kent with a word balloon saying, "But Jimmy, that's where the bomb is," and Jimmy Olsen with a word balloon, "I tried to stop her, but you know Lois."). In Exit From America you get several paragraphs of third-person backstory followed by a several-paragraph scene of present tense dialog.
The writing is extremely good, this is an exquisitely crafted novel. That's one of the reasons it requires continuous attentive reading. All the action occurs in the dialog scenes, and thus is filtered through the perceptions of the characters. Action is not described sequentially or tautly, the subjective accounts make it seem to be happening in slow motion with slightly disordered time. You feel what is happening indirectly rather than reading the facts in order.
To follow the story, the reader must keep track of five individuals the author paints in considerable emotional and spiritual depth, as well as several minor characters who also have depth but only limited aspects of them are revealed. This is a fair amount of work, but it is rewarded by the complex and inspiring interactions that grow naturally out of the story.
I recommend this book to serious readers willing to give it the attention it deserves. I won't know how I feel about it for some time, maybe years, as it takes time for characters this complex to settle in to my mind. But I know today that it was a pleasure to read, and that it left me with fond recollections and provoked thoughts.