We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
Published by Wendy Lamb Books on May 27 2014
Genres: young adult, contemporary
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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 received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I love books about sisterhood, especially about when the bond between a pair of sisters who were once extremely close becomes strained. This is probably due to the fact that I’ve longed for a sister for as long as I can remember. Instead, I have three brothers. Yay.
The problem with a lot of books about this subject is that they have a tendency to be very boring if not handled properly. We Are the Goldens was handled properly.
The brevity of the book (it comes in at just over 200 pages and took only about three hours to read) really works for it. It was easy to become completely wrapped up in Nell and Layla’s tiny little world and I became attached to them very quickly. If the writing hadn’t been as powerful as it is, I believe that this book could have failed for me – not a lot really happens. It’s very introspective and character driven, and Nell and Layla are both beyond frustrating at times. I very rarely read about characters under the age of sixteen, but the narrator, Nell, is only fourteen (perhaps fifteen towards the end). She is a freshman in high school and I really thought that her lack of experience and inherent naivity would make me hate her, but I never did. I found that she had a voice that was much older than fourteen. She was believable and she often had bad judgement like most fourteen year old girls, but she was a refreshing narrator.
My biggest qualm with Nell was her undying loyalty to her sister. She knew that Layla was in trouble and she was the only person who could help her, but because Layla had begged her not to tell anyone, Nell chose not to tell. She seemed almost obsessed with Layla, with wanting Layla to love her again and to trust her. She so hated that her sister was drifting away from her, locking her out of her life. I understand that feeling, but it was still difficult to read as Layla became more and more secretive and reserved. Nell wasn’t doing her sister any favours by keeping her secrets.
We Are the Goldens is written as a kind of letter from Nell to Layla. As such, Nell almost always refers to Layla as ‘you’. It was a risky move, and it worked. I think that this book would have been far less powerful were it written in a traditional first person point of view. I really enjoyed the strange, not-quite-a-letter style in which it was told.
The ending was fairly predictable, though I can’t see any alternative way for it to have ended. I would have liked to see some of the fallout of Nell’s actions and how her and Layla’s relationship fared. I wonder if they could ever rebuild their friendship and how tortured Nell would feel in the meantime.