We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for this wonderful, sorrowful look at how quickly two sisters lives will be challenged when one has a secret. Nell is beginning her freshman year in high school and she can’t wait. Her much loved older sister is now a junior, and Nell follows in her footsteps making the soccer team and reveling in her older sister’s glow. Nell tells We Are the Goldens in her voice like she is confiding to her sister, or writing her a long, long letter to be read later; then Layla will really understand all that Nell has been thinking and feeling about her older sister’s distance and silences. Thankfully, Nell is a strong, likable girl with a best friend in Felix de la Cruz with whom she shares “most” of her life ups and downs. It is early on in the school year when Layla doesn’t go to parties (like she used to) and has Nell take part in her lies providing the tension, misgivings, and sadness throughout Nell’s days and nights. When it is revealed that her beautiful older sister is involved with the young, handsome art teacher, Mr. B, Nell really begins to struggle with her loyalty to her sister and this relationship that means the world to Layla. Even though their parents are divorced, Nell and Layla spend time with both parents and their parents are supportive and involved with their daughters. It is when Layla wiggles out of a time honored trip with their mom and grandmother due to “homework” that Nell really has a problem with her sister’s decisions, feelings for Mr. B, and swearing Nell to secrecy about their relationship. I ached for Nell and the loss of her sister’s support and friendship. As the book unfolds and Nell wrestles with loyalty to Layla or exposing her sister, the tension becomes many layered. Nell wants to be Nellaya (one with Layla) with her sister again; what will she do to make their bond whole again? For a riveting, true read, We Are the Goldens provides a commentary on what it means to be loyal to family, sisters, and secrets. I love Dana Reinhart’s books and this is another one of my favorites.
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