A Reader Opines: We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

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We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
Expected Publication: May 27th 2014 by Wendy Lamb Books
Genre: Young Adult | Realistic Fiction | Contemporary
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*

Even though I’m far removed from my teenage years I still remember how awkward it was to navigate those unfamiliar waters. Making tough decisions and colossal mistakes defined those tumultuous years. We Are the Goldens is a story about such decisions and mistakes.

Blurb taken from Netgalley:
Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

I’ve never been a big fan of the first person point of view, but realize it is growing more popular every day. For the story of Layla and Nell it could be told no other way. Nell is the narrator and she is speaking to her sister Layla. The reader joins the story as Nell stands on a threshold. She’s closing the door on childhood and embarking on a journey into adulthood. What makes the story so compelling is her compass—Layla—is lost.

Nell’s narrative is two-fold; it’s the story of her freshman year and it’s the story of Layla’s choices and their consequences. These sisters have a bond that runs deep. As Nell navigates the world of high school and realizes Layla is no longer the person she can lean on, her confusion is profound.

The story is good and the plot is believable. Unfortunately, teachers do cross the line with their students sometimes. Reinhardt skillfully weaves a tale that illuminates a controversial subject and in so doing reveals just how difficult it is to be a teenager in the modern world.

The characters weren’t mere shadows, but rather fully developed beings. I particularly liked the dynamics between Nell and her best friend Felix. I had a friend like him in high school and it made me feel nostalgic. Nell’s use of conversations with the imaginary Creed brothers (or their ghosts?) as her conscience was a stroke of genius.

While I enjoyed We Are the Goldens it didn’t blow me away. It’s worth reading and I recommend it to fans of young adult and realistic fiction.

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