I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
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? (source)
At the beginning of the NetGalley ARC of We are the Goldens, there is a letter to the readers - I think it's from an editor or a publisher; the person's relationship to the book is never defined. Anyway, the writer of this letter tells the reader that "early readers at Random House Children's Books have devoured We are the Goldens in one sitting." Statements like these are meant to entice the reader, but they usually turn me off - when I learn that books receive glowing reviews, I'm usually overly skeptical and on the look out for flaws. Well, that's what happened going into this one - I was hoping for the best, but expecting to be let down. Instead, I started this book at 6PM tonight while on my dinner break at work and I finished it by midnight. The only time I stopped reading was to return to work at 6:30, and I immediately picked the book back up when I got home at 9. To sum it up, let me just say that this book was wonderful.
In many ways, We are the Goldens reminds me of Perks of Being a Wallflower. There are differences, of course - Nell is nowhere near as troubled as Charlie is, and this is primarily the story of sisters. But it's a coming-of-age story that I actually enjoyed and, like Charlie, Nell is a bit of a wallflower. Also, this story is told in the form of letters. Unlike in Perks, we know that Nell is writing to her sister, Layla, instead of an unidentified friend. I think that this is a really unique method of storytelling, and, like Stephen Chbosky, Dana Reinhardt pulled it off flawlessly.
There were some parts of the story that were super predictable.(show spoiler)
It would have been cool if these things that were meant to be plot twists had been revealed in such a way that they had caught me off guard. But I'm okay with them not doing that, because the book itself was just so good. I think that my favorite part about it was Nell's voice. Nell's voice is more sophisticated than most 15-year-old's would be, but in a way that makes her sound intelligent rather than pretentious. She's clever, but she is still very clearly a teenager. I loved this - I think it's something that John Green attempts, but, while I love his writing style, I don't think that his characters often sound like they're in high school.
My only other complaint was that this book was too short. If I'm being honest, that's part of the reason why I was able to read it in a total of 3.5 hours - in addition to completely grasping my attention, the book is definitely brief. The ending leaves things very open-ended. We know what choice Nell has decided to make, but we don't know how things end. And I really, really want to know how this story ends. But at the same time, I appreciate what Reinhardt's trying to do - she wants the ending to be left up to the reader. So, since she's given us that option, here's how I want things to be:(show spoiler)
I'm a sucker for a happy ending.
This book was fantastic. If you are 1) a fan of Perks of Being a Wallflower, 2) a fan of coming-of-age stories, 3) a fan of YA lit, or 4) a sucker for teen drama, I absolutely recommend that you read this book. It'll suck you right in and it's a fast read that'll leave you wanting more. I'm definitely going to be looking for more from Dana Reinhardt in the future - if this book is a good representative of her work as a whole, then she's definitely an author to follow.
Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.