Rummanah Aasi
  You can find many books about sibling relationships, but many of them often feature rivalries. We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt features a complex relationship between two sisters where one sister is trying to find her own voice while the other harbors a dangerous secret. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read the advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: 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.


Review: From a very young age Nell has adored and admired her near-perfect sister Layla. When Nell starts high school in San Francisco, she plans to follow in the footsteps of her near-perfect sister Layla, whom she loves with a devotion that approaches adulation. The sisters have been close and have gotten closer since their parents' divorce, but Layla is becoming distant and harbors a dangerous secret that could threaten the sisters apart and put the family in jeopardy.
  Many reviewers have indicated that the reveal of Layla's secret was a bit anticlimactic, which may be true but I don't think unveiling the secret was the purpose of this book. Instead of the emphasis on the melodrama, Reinhardt focuses on Nell's self discovery and shattering the image of her perfect sister in her confession which is a unique blend of first- and second-person, past- and present-tense narration. I found myself engrossed in Nell's voice and observed her as she struggled to come out of her sister's shadow. I think many readers who have siblings can understand Nell's hesitancy to break the unsaid sisterhood code and you can feel her mixed emotions as she addresses her sister directly, spilling out her thoughts as she prepares to confront Layla and bring the secret out into the open.
  In addition to the different narrative style, I really enjoyed reading Nell's inner dialogue with two boys, brothers who died within a year of each other, and thought it worked well as a framework for Nell to process the truth, while her best friend, Felix, provides real-life emotional support and a striking contrast to Layla's situation. Since the book is mainly written in Nell's point of view, we are kept in suspense about Layla's whereabouts though there are many allusions sprinkled about. Although I wished we found out what after Nell brings Layla's secret out in the open, but Reinhardt's skillful exploration of the dynamics of sibling relationships is what stands out in this book.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, underage drinking, and implied sexual situations. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield, The Last Summer of Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    This sounds like a really fascinating read Rummanah! I do worry a little bit about the unique narrative style - where it was a highlight for you I fear it may be a struggle for me. Second person is so tricky for me! Glad you enjoyed this one overall and didn't feel the secret reveal was as anticlimactic as others did:)


  2. This does sound good, while as you mentioned the whole secret thing is a bit of a miss the rest sounds intriguing. I like the focus on sisterly relationships and I think at some point in our lives we go through that period when someone we hold in high esteem shows they are just human.


  3. Oh wow! This sounds like a good read. I like that it is a bit unique. That makes me curious. I really do like the sound of these characters as well. Oh thanks for finding me something different.


  4. It's too bad that the reveal of the secret is anticlimactic and that we don't learn what happens after, but I really like the sound of this one because of the focus on the sibling relationship. My concern though is the continuous switch in style of narration because unless it's really distinct like in Wherever You Go, I may end up either getting annoyed or confused.


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