Dana Reinhardt: We Are the Goldens (2014)

We Are the Goldens

Publication date: 2014

Pages: 198

Word count: ?

Ages: YA

Last year I read my first Dana Reinhardt novel (The Summer I Learned to Fly) and liked it a great deal. The story was cute, the characters lovable but what I liked the most was the tone and the voice.

I knew I would read another of her novels very soon and when I saw We Are The Goldens at the book shop, I had to get it.

Freshman Nell and her best friend Felix can hardly wait to go to Nell’s older sister’s school. Like her sister, Layla, she’ll be joining the varsity soccer team. The two sisters are very close. Nell worships Layla and thinks of them as one person – Nellayla. But as soon as Nell and Felix join Layla at her school, Layla begins to change. Like most of the girls she seems taken with her art teacher, a cool, edgy guy. Because he’s young, good-looking, and accessible, many rumours circulate. Everybody thinks he’s having affairs with his students. When Layla withdraws more and more and doesn’t share anything with Nell, Nell gets frantic. Is it possible Layla hides something from her? Something as big as an affair with a teacher? When Nell finally finds out what it is, she struggles to understand Layla and earn her trust.

While observing Layla takes up a lot of Nell’s time, she has also got to figure out a lot of things for herself. Falling in love with the wrong guy is just one of them.

We Are the Goldens is told in second person, as if the narrator, Nell, was speaking directly to her older sister Layla. Second person is a difficult point of view. It’s not easy to pull it off but Dana Reinhardt really made this work. It gives the book a very intimate feel, which I enjoyed. I also loved Nell’s voice. It’s a likable, gentle voice.

To be entirely honest, We Are the Goldens was a bit of a mixed bag. I really loved Nell’s part of the story. When she focussed on herself, her love life, her best friend Felix, going to a new school, her hopes and dreams. Nell and Felix are an adorable couple. He stands by her, no matter what. But what I didn’t like is the obsessive nature of Nell’s feelings for her sister. I found that a bit unhealthy.

The book has two major twists. To write about them would totally spoil the book, so let’s just say, I wasn’t too keen on the second twist. Or rather on what Nell did. The twist was actually surprising and made the book come together. One thing’s for sure, it’s the kind of ending, one would like to discuss.

While I didn’t love this book as much as The Summer I Learned to Fly and do have a couple of reservations, I still enjoyed it and can’t wait to read another of Dana Reinhardt’s books.

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