We Are the Goldens

We Are the Goldens

3.8 12
by Dana Reinhardt
     
 

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"Reinhardt writes wonderfully about delicate, precarious human relationships, articulating dynamics I never noticed but which ring brilliantly true. The Goldens radiate charm, but beneath their charm is heartbreak, ambition, and delusion. There is so much to dissect and discuss here: this book will leave crowds of people eager to talk about the ending."--E.

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Overview

"Reinhardt writes wonderfully about delicate, precarious human relationships, articulating dynamics I never noticed but which ring brilliantly true. The Goldens radiate charm, but beneath their charm is heartbreak, ambition, and delusion. There is so much to dissect and discuss here: this book will leave crowds of people eager to talk about the ending."--E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Nell worships her older sister, Layla. They're one unit, intertwined: Nellayla. As Nell and her best friend, Felix, start their freshman year in high school, on Layla's turf, there's so much Nell looks forward to: Joining Layla on the varsity soccer team. Parties. Boys. Adventures.
   But the year takes a very different turn.
   Layla is changing, withdrawing. She's hiding something, and when Nell discovers what it is, and the consequences it might have, she struggles. She wants to support Layla, to be her confidante, to be the good sister she's always been. But with so much at stake, what secrets should she keep? What lies should she tell?
   Award-winning young adult author Dana Reinhardt explores questions of loyalty, love, and betrayal in this provocative and intimate novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/24/2014
After the first chapter of this absorbing contemporary novel, readers will know two things about narrator Nell Golden, a high school freshman: she is extremely close to her sister, Layla, a junior at the same San Francisco school, and Nell is about to make an announcement that could drive the two of them apart. Written as a confessional, from Nell to Layla, the story goes on to tell how Nell’s idolization of her sister is challenged when rumors spread about Layla having an affair with the school’s hip art teacher. Stunned by the news, Nell is having her own romantic disaster, as well, falling for a boy whose lust she mistakes for love. Layla is quick to comfort her, but Nell has trouble offering reciprocal support. Reinhardt (The Summer I Learned to Fly) succeeds in capturing the full gamut of fluctuating adolescent emotions, including the intensity of first love, the disappointment of misjudgment, and the pain of losing one’s innocence. As Nell faces difficult choices, one of her emotions remains steadfast: her deep devotion to Layla. Ages 14–up. Agent: Douglas Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Karen Jensen
Sisters Nell and Layla were once so close Nell thought of them as Nelllayla. But as they enter high school, the two siblings are drifting apart and Nell feels a tremendous sense of loss. At first, Nell is not sure why, but then she learns Layla’s secret: she is dating their high school art teacher. Nell is having her own struggles: after she hooks up with a boy at a party, the rumors start to fly; her best friend, Felix, learns his dad has cancer; and, most importantly of all, Nell must determine if she will choose protecting her relationship with her sister by keeping her secret or protecting her sister by speaking out about what she feels is a destructive relationship. We Are The Goldens is told as a confessional from Nell to Layla, building up to the end when Nell makes her ultimate decision. In this haunting confessional, readers can feel the intense love that Nell feels for her sister and the slow build of loss as the two drift apart. The narrative captures the intense emotions of the teenage years as well as Nell’s longing. First love, relationship mistakes, and high school culture all make remarkably well-developed appearances. The book ends with Nell calling a family meeting and the reader is left to fill in the blanks about what may or may not happen next, making this book a great discussion starter. It is an interesting and subtle look at an important issue. The relationships and storytelling are rich and atmospheric, though there is not a lot of action and no clear resolutions, so recommend accordingly. Reviewer: Karen Jensen; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Bonita Herold
Nellie enters high school as a freshman with certain expectations. As the younger of two Golden sisters blessed with good looks, common sense, and athletic ability, she hopes for a Golden year. She will make the soccer team and rule the party scene; even Sam Fitzpayne will notice her. Her best friend Felix will always be there for her, and Layla will remain her confidante and guardian angel. Only half of that comes true. Layla is pulling away, and Nellie does not know why. Enter the dreamy art teacher. He is so cool that even the guys want to be in his class. Every year a rumor goes around connecting him with one of his students. It must be a rumor, right? Otherwise, he would not have a job. When Nellie discovers what is going on, Layla swears her to secrecy. She cannot confide in her mom and dad, and she cannot confide in Felix. What more damage can a secret do? Can Nellie continue to lie for Layla? Should she? Comparable to the intensity of R.E. Nelson’s Teach Me but from the point of view of a beloved sister rather than the mistress, We Are the Goldens tackles the topics of secrecy, betrayal, and the blurred line between loyalty and doing what is right. Teen readers will not be able to put this novel down. Reviewer: Bonita Herold; Ages 13 up.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-17
Nell's discovery of her sister's secret tests the powerful emotional bond between them. When Nell starts high school in San Francisco, she plans to follow in the footsteps of her near-perfect sister Layla, whom she loves with a devotion that approaches adulation. Up till now their lives have been intertwined, particularly since their parents' divorce, but Layla is becoming distant. At first, Nell brushes off rumors that Layla's in an inappropriate relationship with City Day's young art teacher, but Layla's secretive behavior can't help but attract suspicion. In a blend of first- and second-person, past- and present-tense narration, Nell addresses her sister directly, spilling out her thoughts as she prepares to confront Layla and bring the secret out into the open. Nell's inner dialogue with two boys, brothers who died within a year of each other, is convincing as a framework for Nell to process the truth, while her best friend, Felix, provides real-life emotional support. Along the way, readers are kept in suspense about Layla's whereabouts, although the ending is somewhat anticlimactic. In the end, the story feels rather ordinary—as so much of life is. Reinhardt's skillful exploration of the dynamics of sibling relationships and truly inventive narrative structure shine a light on the ordinary struggle of growing up. (Fiction. 12-15)
From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly starred review, February 24, 2014
“Reinhardt (The Summer I Learned to Fly) succeeds in capturing the full gamut of fluctuating adolescent emotions, including the intensity of first love, the disappointment of misjudgment, and the pain of losing one’s innocence.”

“Reinhardt’s skillful exploration of the dynamics of sibling relationships and truly inventive narrative structure shine a light on the ordinary struggle of growing up.” ─ Kirkus Reviews

"Dana Reinhardt excels at creating complex, realistic family relationships and placing strong, provocative themes in the midst of engaging coming-of-age stories. We Are the Goldens is no exception; it’s a superbly crafted story that feels emotionally honest and expansive despite its tightly written style." ─ BookPage 

"Reinhart beautifully captures the messy passage from adolescence to adulthood. Part of Nell wants to stay the child, while the other part knows she must follow her own moral compass. Is it her responsibility to keep her sister's secret? Or to protect her, perhaps against her wishes? Reinhardt gets this delicate balance just right, and leaves readers thinking long after the last page." ─ Shelf Awareness 

"The haunting writing in this suspenseful contemporary YA will keep you up late into the night to finish. (No wonder we’re tired today!)" ─ I Heart Daily 

One of BuzzFeed’s “15 YA Novels to Watch Out For This Spring”

School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—At the heart of this work of realistic fiction is a close but complicated relationship between two sisters as they come of age. For as long as 15-year-old Nell can remember, her best friend has been her older sister, Layla. The two girls are confidantes, and Nell aspires to be as accomplished, and well respected as Layla. But when Nell begins her freshman year at the high school where Layla is a junior, she begins to suspect that something isn't right in Layla's world. She worries about her sister throughout the school year and finally discovers that Layla is concealing a romantic involvement with a teacher. Reinhardt approaches this complex and heavy issue from Nell's perspective as she struggles with whether to alert an adult to her sibling's inappropriate relationship. Although there are a handful of poignant moments and Reinhardt sets up a realistic plotline, the story isn't as substantial as one might hope, and the writing is occasionally uneven. This is a novel that could rank among Wintergirls (Viking, 2009) and Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007) in that it addresses a tough but relevant issue for teens; however, it falls slightly short in its lack of complexity and consistency.—Allie Bronston, Colorado Academy, Denver, CO

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385742573
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
05/27/2014
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
551,435
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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