We Are the Goldens

( 9 )


"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, ...

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We Are the Goldens

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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. 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.

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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)
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”

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.
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.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
School Library Journal
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: 5/27/2014
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 275,426
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Reinhardt

DANA REINHARDT is the author of A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Harmless, How to Build a House, The Things a Brother Knows, The Summer I Learned to Fly, and Odessa Again. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 17, 2014

    Dana Reinhardt has this ability to write a story in such a way t

    Dana Reinhardt has this ability to write a story in such a way that it strikes a chord inside of you, even if you haven't experienced the issue at hand yourself. In WE ARE THE GOLDENS we get a story about two sisters, Nell and Layla, who until recently were inseparable. Nell looks up to her big sister and strives to be like her in every way possible. And then...Layla begins a romantic relationship with a teacher at her high school. Nell knows this is wrong, but wants to support her sister because OMG SHE'S IN LOVE. So. What does a girl do? Does she keep her sisters secret even though she knows it's wrong?

    And this is what I mean by striking a chord with readers. I'm going to go out a limb here and assume that most of you reading this do not have a sister that was/is romantically involved with a teacher. But I would guess that we all have felt a little uncomfortable with the decisions a loved one has made. So much so, that we've struggled with whether it's more important to keep the secret for that person, or tell someone because the secret is harmful and needs to be brought to someone's attention. That's the chord I'm talking about here. Reinhardt is genius in this realm. (See my review of THE THINGS A BROTHER KNOWS for further proof. Reinhardt was able to make me identify with a 17 year old boy. That's not an easy task, lol.)

    I also walked away from this book with a supporting character to include on my list of favorite supporting characters of all time. Layla's BFF, Felix, is not only the best kind of best friend, he adds some really great humor in a pretty heavy story.

    Be prepared to devour this one in one sitting. While it is a heavy story, the prose used to tell the story will captivate you and not let go until you see how Layla and Nell's story plays out.

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  • Posted June 12, 2014

    Being a human is hard. Being a woman is harder. Being a teenage

    Being a human is hard. Being a woman is harder. Being a teenage girl is like Atlas holding all the planets not just earth. In We are the Golden’s author Dana Reinhardt puts this experience into words in a tragic situation. As young Nell Golden is trying desperately to keep Layla’s secret! The only problem? She isn’t sure she wants to if the cost is her sister. Unfortunately, Layla her older sister does not see their relationship as something she can’t live without. Layla is willing to sacrifice everything including her relationship with her sister to keep her secret. What Layla doesn’t realize is that her sacrifice is sending Nell into a lonely dark place that could tear their family apart more than the divorce.
    Nell is on a haphazard journey finding her own identity outside of her sister Layla. Except her life itself seems to be careening into a lost being without Layla. Nell struggles with learning how to Not be just Layla’s sister. She has to figure out exactly who Nell Golden is all while trying to not let everything she holds so dear about her sister be destroyed. She’s learning how to navigate this broken home that seems to have broken her life. 
    Nell is learns how to confront the person she thought would always be her greatest love & support. She’s finding love in all the wrong places & finding herself on the short end of the high school persecution stick. Nell turns to her best friend Felix whom has parents that inspire Nell’s fairytale love story happening in her head. Until, Felix can’t be her crutch when his Dad is diagnosed with Cancer. Not unlike many people Nell struggles to find the balance between being who you know you ought to be, who you want to be & being the you who makes your life easier to survive.
    While we watch Nell Golden realize that the cracks in the relationships we have can let in enough air to fuel the fire that can consume us; love! This story allows the reader to see that there is more to being a teenage girl than makeup, shopping & texting. It shows that even at such a young age our desire to save the things we love can destroy us. We are the Goldens leads us on the epic journey to discover how family can be the safest & cruelest part of our lives. 

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  • Posted June 5, 2014

    We Are the Goldens is told from the POV of Nell. Nell feels extr

    We Are the Goldens is told from the POV of Nell. Nell feels extremely close to her older sister Layla. She looks up to her and is over the moon excited about starting high school at the same one Layla goes to. Their close relationship changes one day however when Nell discovers Layla’s big secret. That is the major turning point in their relationship. Things are never the same for them and the closeness they once shared becomes more strained by lies and distance.

    Nell has a huge choice to make…telling someone what she knows or keeping Layla’s secret. I didn’t envy her that decision. She knows the right thing to do, it’s just a matter of should she do it or not.

    All in all I thought that We Are the Goldens was a good quick read. The book reads as if it were Nell writing letters to her sister. It was just hard for me to get into the narrative style at first. But once I got over that, I was able to enjoy the story-line. The relationship between sisters can be a delicate one and I thought that the author did a god job of showcasing that. 

    **I received this book on behalf of the publisher in exchange for nothing but my honest opinion.**

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  • Posted June 5, 2014

    You might find this story exhilarating and entertaining, like an

    You might find this story exhilarating and entertaining, like an old friend whispering over your right shoulder, or then again you might not. You might find it moving and breathtaking, and it might caress you like the wind whispering against your face. You might remember the combination to your old high school locker and attempt to visit it in a moment of nostalgia, before the local authorities come to arrest you, and take you up to the big house on the hill—the one overlooking the water through a set of bars that will keep you contained for the next twenty-four hours. Or then again, you might remain unmoved and curse the heavens at this story of sisters who were seventeen months apart. The closeness these sisters shared, and the bond that held them together might as well have been superglue, even if it ended up a bit chipped around the edges.

    I’d say it’s nearly impossible not to feel some sort of emotion upon the completion of WE ARE THE GOLDENS, but that would be mere conjecture and projection, and I want you to live your own life. Make your own mistakes, and dream the impossible dream…even if it blows up in your face faster than an M-80 and leaves you scarred from the nose down. For these chances and mistakes lead to opportunities and promises and hopes that might fill your body to its breaking point with desire and adrenaline, or then again, maybe you’d prefer to remain anonymous and stand behind the curtain, and let someone else make all the mistakes.

    What I can tell you, though, is this tale moved me. I was inserted and transported to the heart of this story, and I found the little voice whispering behind my right ear and talking to me like an old friend who had just plopped down beside me on the sofa. And as I hugged my Kindle against my chest and read page after page, I couldn’t stop the movement as it rumbled through my body and poured out of my pores, and astonished me at its sheer bravado when all I had asked was to be entertained for a few short hours of my life.

    Second tense never sounded so intense and mature, even if Nell was only fifteen years old. And her sister Layla with her golden locks and skimpy frocks made all the heads of the high school boys turn. Her fair share of golden hair made me smile with pleasure and glee, and at seventeen years she was the perfect one, or so it would initially seem. But this tale has more depth and despair than its adolescence would lead you to believe.

    But you’ll have to find out yourself if this is a story you want to read, because all I can say is that it moved yesterday and made me particularly happy to have discovered it. With a gleam in my eye, and my eyes pointed to the sky, I reached the end of this piece. But the ending of this youthful lass, as it came to pass, left me with more questions than answers. So it can be said with the slightest hint of dread that I would have liked a slightly more definitive conclusion than the slightly open-ended one I was offered, even as I know when I have met life’s strife I often have more questions than answers.

    I received this book for free through NetGalley.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

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  • Posted May 31, 2014

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    Nell and Layla, Layla and Nell ¿ sisters forever and a bond that

    Nell and Layla, Layla and Nell – sisters forever and a bond that will forever be strong. That is until Nell starts high school and Layla, a junior betrays Nell. Sometimes people do things without thinking, they’re living in the moment, they are invincible and no matter what you say, they can’t hear you. For Layla, she is in love, I mean real love or at least that is what she believes. For Nell, she thought that following in Layla’s footsteps would be hard but she loved her, she believed in her and she would do anything for her older sister. This commitment to her sister would take a toll on Nell as she witnesses’ things that she never thought Layla was possible of doing. As the open relationship between the two sisters begins to tighten; the tension heats, the words spoken get shorter and time passes slowly. Nell just wants her sister back but Layla is living her dream and the other parties involved are confused at what they see.

    Nell really fell for her older sister, she adored her and didn’t mind living in her shadows. Nell’s persistence to help her sister and Nell’s means to accomplish what she wanted to do made her an extraordinary character. Nell knew that she couldn’t hold onto the secrets and who she told the secrets to would matter, just like lies and gossip that traveled down the school hallways, she knew she had to tell the right individuals. I adored Nell’s and Felix’s relationship. They had something special going while Nell’s world is twisting all around her. There is only so much a person can take and as you read the author’s final words, you create the finale.
    Received from NetGalley and Wendy Lamb Books for an honest review. Thank you.

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  • Posted May 30, 2014

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    I discovered one thing with this . I am totally out of sync with

    I discovered one thing with this . I am totally out of sync with teenagers. It took me a bit to get into this story as I don't really care for 1st person and talking the other characters. So said, I did get hooked. It wasn't what I was expecting. It was better. Nell and Layla are close in age to be twins. 1st Person Nell talks to dead friends for advice. She has moved up to High School with her sister Layla. Layla develops a crush on her art teacher. Nell is upset that Layla leaves her out of things. Nell relies on her best friend Felix. I guess the spoiler here is that it leaves you hanging over the cliff. Can't wait for the next book.

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  • Posted May 28, 2014

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    Rating: 3.5 I liked the writing in We Are the Goldens. The stor

    Rating: 3.5

    I liked the writing in We Are the Goldens. The story is written as if Nell is speaking or writing to Layla. It flows easily, in a conversational tone. The tone combined with it’s relative shortness (~200 pages) allowed for a quick and easy read.

    I enjoyed the story, although I did expect more than I received. [SPOILERS]The biggest letdown was the ending. I didn’t like that things were left wide open with no resolution. While an epilogue might not have made any sense considering the way the rest of the story reads, I am still curious as to what happens afterwards. Being left in the dark like that is disappointing.[/SPOILERS]

    Overall, it was an okay book and I’m glad I got the opportunity to read it.

    * This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

    All of my reviews are available on my blog, KDH Reviews.

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  • Posted May 27, 2014

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    Read on May 12, 2014 Book Info  Hardcover, 208 pages Expecte

    Read on May 12, 2014

    Book Info 
    Hardcover, 208 pages
    Expected publication: May 27th 2014 by Wendy Lamb Books
    ISBN 0385742576 (ISBN13: 9780385742573)
    other editions (5)
    Source:Netgalley EARC

    Book Buy Links 


    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.

    My Thoughts

    A story told from Nell’s POV written as basically an ongoing internal dialogue to her older sister Layla interspersed with real dialogue with teachers, friends, her parents and at times with Layla.

    As an only child it is not hard for me to imagine the feelings that Nell had for her sister, I would have given anything when young to have one of my own to worship and be friends with.

    Layla is the older Golden child, having been conceived thanks to the intervention of medical science when nature needed a helping hand she was long awaited and much loved as soon as she came into the world. Nell was conceived 8 months later, a “surprise” child who being little under 2 years younger than her sister bonded closely and became her shadow.

    Having daughters so close in age their parents decided they needed time to grow into their own identities so allowed Layla to start school but when it was time for Nell to follow they held her back for a year.

    This never became a real issue until Nell became a Freshmen to her sister Layla’s Junior in High School and she felt like they had grown apart to the point the girls were almost strangers to one another.

    This is a story about growing up with parents who have divorced and would rather live their own lives than provide proper guidance to their children, not that they did not show love or affection to Layla and Nell but they were too busy making up for splitting up the family to really pay attention to making sure the girls made the right decisions as they grew older.

    Layla especially was given way too much latitude, it seemed at times simply because she was 17 she was treated as a responsible adult who was left in charge of Nell who actually was more mature about following the rules their parents had set for them both.

    These two sisters story is interspersed with bits and pieces of what normal teens go through during their high school years along with memories of how things were when they were younger and closer to each other, it makes for a solid look at just how much each one changes as the story progresses.

    Like others who have read the book one of my favorite characters was Nell’s friend Felix, he was a breath of fresh air when the intensity became too much and she needed a bit of comic relief to lighten up with. The fact that he and Nell were so close helped her over and over as she struggled to come to grips with how to handle what was going on with her older sister.

    Neither loved or hated, more like feeling a bit letdown as no real resolution to story at the end.

    [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    "We Are the Goldens" by Dana Reinhardt is a coming-of-

    "We Are the Goldens" by Dana Reinhardt is a coming-of-age story about two sisters, Layla and Nell Golden, who are best friends until Layla starts hiding the truth from Nell. Written like a letter to her sister, Nell tells the story of how close they've always been and how when school starts her freshman year Layla begins withdrawing. Nell takes some of the blame as to what her sister is going through, even though she's not at fault.
    The love and devotion that is shown through Reinhardt's writing is so honest and real that I had a really hard time not having feelings for Nell and Layla. Nell is fifteen and so excited to be starting her freshman year of high school with her older sister. She looks up to Layla and pretty much all or her decisions are based on what Layla does. Layla is the older sister by just ten months but "she has a good head in her shoulders" is how all the adults describe her. She's the popular girl, the all-star athlete, pride of her parents. She's everything Nell wants to be.
    Then the rumors start and Nell is shocked to learn from her sister they are true. This whole story revolves around this truth. Like I said, the story is written as a reflection by Nell, almost like a letter to Layla, an explanation of why she is doing what she does at the end of this book. Nell lies and takes up for Layla, thinking it's the right thing to do, but in her heart she knows it's not. This story's plot is all about Nell leaving her sister's shadow and basically becoming the young adult we all want our children to be.
    This book pulled at my emotions. I was nostalgic thinking about my own high school experiences and if I would've been as brave as Nell if put in her situation. I'd like to say yes, but who knows. I laughed, I cried, and fell in love. If you enjoy coming of age, young adult reads I highly recommend you check this book out. It's sweet, loving and heartbreaking, but worth every word.
    ***I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***

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