Monday, June 2, 2014

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House LLC)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

After their parents divorced, Nell and Layla Golden only had one another for support and constant companionship in the ever-changing world. They could always count on each other to fill whatever voids in their lives. Once Nell began her freshman year at the same high school Layla attended, the bond between them was tested in ways they couldn't imagine.

Nell tried to wrap her head around the secret her sister revealed, but the weight of it all became too much. When lines were crossed, there came time for a decision to be made. Could Nell keep the secret and let Layla continue down a path towards harm? Or would she find the courage to do what she knew in her heart was right?

When I was a child, my brothers and I shared a similarly strong bond as reflected by the two teens in this story. We went everywhere together and experienced a lot of the same highs and lows in life with each other for support. It made weathering the bad times much easier to have them at my side. But then life took over as it did within the story and things shifted, tearing or stretching the bonds thin enough that they've broken a time or two. So when I read the description of the book as it was offered at NetGalley, I felt that I could relate to Nell on a certain level.

The book was presented from Nell's point-of-view. It was almost as though Nell was writing a long letter or journal entry to her sister, Layla, to explain her motivation behind her decision at the end of the book. She poured her heart into the missive, including her feelings and conflicted notions of betrayal and trust, as she recounted what was to be the start of a happy year in her life. As other characters were woven into the story, simple conversations or actions became much more complex and the consequences dire. As I read to the end, I sensed the heaviness of the secrets on Nell's shoulders and felt awful that she was being placed into such a position.

I nearly devoured this book entirely in one sitting. If it weren't for other obligations, I would have finished it within a few hours. Though it was a fairly quick read, the pacing of the book wasn't so quick that it neglected situations or characters in the process. There seemed to be a natural, steady flow to the action from the first chapter to the last. At one point in the book, Nell became overwhelmed with everything happening all at once and even commented on how life seemed to always be that way. We tend to think life happens in stages when the events that happen are constantly overlapping one another. So many adults have problems coping with this fact, it was interesting to see how a young, teenage girl would react to similar burdens.

Overall, I liked this book more than I thought I would. The book was definitely geared toward the young teen demographic, especially with the ups and downs of life in high school and with siblings. While it's geared toward a younger crowd, I suspect that many adults will relate to events in the book as well. At times I thought the book was a little all over the place, but that fit with the way a young person's mind works. Without spoiling the end, I will say that I was a little disappointed that a few doors were left open but I'm also very glad that a stand was taken. Honestly, this book could be used as a discussion or teaching tool for teens and parents. I would recommend this for readers in their mid-teens and up.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores. You can purchase a copy in formats such as hardcover, Kindle or audio-book. Click the link below to visit the book's Amazon page.
We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

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