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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 272

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In the Heart of the Valley of Love is a novel by Cynthia Kadohata, published in 1997 by the University of California Press. It is an experimental work of that verges on science fiction, and is set in the year 2052 in the city of Los Angeles.

The protagonist, Francie, dates her friend from school, Mark, with whom she decides to get a tattoo. At the close of the occasion, she states:

When he finished, we all felt very proud, Carl because he'd done the work, and Mark and I because that was the whole point of getting a tattoo. It was almost as if you were challenging God. (131)

Francie and Mark belong to the group of "have-nots" that populate much of Kadohata's futuristic Los Angeles. The rich live in "Richtown," which is "what everyone who didn't live there called Beverly Hills," (5). They are self-affirming members of the counter-culture that heavily populates the future Los Angeles. The two, alongside their other friend from school, Jewel, engage in a number of altruistic and investigative enterprises (such as defending a young man accused of murder while allegedly passing by a robbery, and exposing a school administrator who solicits prostitutes from among his students). Nevertheless, Francie is resigned to the fact that she will always be poor.

Francie explains at the novel's outset that "there had been rationing for as long as I could remember. The government sent you gas and drinking water creds every month and debited your bank account for them," (9) This explanation sets the stage for Kadohata's dystopian fiction, and invites the reader to consider how similar are these circumstances to modern Los Angeles.