Book Review: We Are the Goldens
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
ashley | I don’t have a sister. I’ve had girl friends that have been close like a sister, but those friendships have crumbled and distanced themselves, which makes me believe that they couldn’t have had that some kind of bond that you have with a real sister. So reading We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt was all the more interesting for me, to watch that unbreakable sisterly bond blossom and be put to the test.
We Are the Goldens is short and sweet; I read it in one sitting on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Written sister to sister, young Nell narrates the story as she recounts events to her older sister Layla. With the honesty of retrospect, Nell admits her insecurities and naivety in comparison to the perfect original Golden child Layla in what I can imagine is a common feeling among younger siblings, especially those of the same sex. It’s a complex heartfelt confession as Nell sees her sister falling deeper and distancing herself further from everything she was and the struggle Nell feels about whether she should keep this secret or not.
The way Nell sees the world through her fifteen year old eyes paints everything with a dreamy fog, something reminiscent of the Virgin Suicides. But that dreamy fog is quickly thickening into a darkness as she begins to grow and learn about some of the heavier things in life. This is a coming of age story that carries a few clichéd after school special storylines, but Reinhardt manages to strip away that cheesiness and leaves a rawness that eats away at you. I couldn’t help but feel drawn into these characters, maybe it’s their vulnerability or their desperation or the painful memories of what it is like at that age, but there is something so engaging with this snippet of story and I couldn’t look away.
I may not have ever had a sister, but I remember what it is like being a girl in high school and what it’s like to be forced to grow up, even when you aren’t quite ready to do so.
We are the Goldens is available May 27 everywhere your favourite books are sold.