Just Finished Reading ... We Are the Goldens

We Are the Goldens
by Dana Reinhardt
Published by May 27, 2014
by Wendy Lamb Books

Source: giveaway at ALA

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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. 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 take: This is a short (208 pages), beautifully written book about two sisters and what happens when the close bond between them begins to unravel as Nell, the younger sister, discovers a secret that Layla, the older sister, has been keeping. That's it. The book is about the sisters' relationship, and about how knowing the secret puts a strain on Nell and the way she interacts with other people in her life -- her parents, her best friend, and the guy she has a crush on. The secret is revealed in the blurb above, but I edited it out. (It's not the kind of secret I like in a YA book, and if I'd known that was the secret, I might not have read the book.)

We Are the Goldens is set in San Francisco, a place I visited recently, and I loved seeing Nell make her way around the city. I also really, really loved Felix, Nell's best friend. The story is written in a sort-of-second person style. Nell, the narrator, addresses her sister as "you" throughout the story, as if she's talking or writing to her. Second person narration is usually way too weird and jarring for me, but I thought this technique really worked, emphasizing how close the two sisters were until the secret came between them.

Another thing I liked about We Are the Goldens is that the what and the why of the secret really aren't the point of the book. The story is really about Nell and her struggle to define herself in relation to her sister.  I loved that this beautifully-crafted little book, like the lovely, cropped close-up photo on the cover, focuses so narrowly. Other readers may disagree, and I will admit that the abrupt ending was a little unsatisfying. But I also think it fit the story. There was only one aspect of the story that didn't quite work for me, and that was the dead brothers. (Hard to explain if you haven't read the book.) But overall, I'm a big fan of this book. If you enjoy realistic YA and enjoy reading things that break the typical YA mold, you should definitely try this one!


  1. Can't wait to read this one. Thank you for the review!

  2. The whole thing with the brothers was something that I didn't ever really get either. I wanted to know who they were. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one. :)

  3. I've had bad luck with narration like this one. I first encountered it in Sally Green's Half-bad and it left a confusing impression on me, so I'm a bit wary of this one. However, I do trust your word that it will be effective here! I admit I'm not well-versed in this art of second-person-narration, but I am willing to try one that may blow me away. Thanks for the review, love!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

  4. I really didn't understand the brothers either. I think maybe they were supposed to help guide Nell on her path to self-discovery. Sort of like Mushu did with Mulan. :)

    Great review!

  5. I have this, but I've been on the fence about reading it. I can't believe they put the secret in the blurb, I'm going to make sure I don't read the blurb if I read the book. I do like that it's about sisters and I guess it's short enough that not having other plot stuff happening might be fine.

  6. This one sounds interesting, original if nothing else. Good to know about the blurb, I hate when they give too many things away. I'll try to remember not to read it if I do pick this one up.

  7. I got this one from Netgalley...I haven't read it yet, but want to :). Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Definitely sounds like a great read. I will check it out. Thanks for sharing, Jen.

  9. I find it interesting that they would put the secret into the synopsis. The whole secret thing is supposed to be the compelling factor to actually read the book. Anyway, thanks for your honest review!

  10. Oh no! My curiosity was evil and I did read the blurb and now I know what's the secret... but seriously? they had to put it there?
    Well, I do trust I'll love the writing, so I'm adding it to my TBR pile.
    Thank you Jen!
    Lis @ The reader lines

  11. I'm planning on reading this one, so I'm so glad that you really liked it. Fabulous review, as always. :)


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