Review: We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

we are the goldens

We Are the Goldens
by Dana Reinhardt
Publication date: May 27th 2014
by Wendy Lamb Books
Category: YA
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Publisher/NetGalley

My Rating:

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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.

My Thoughts

We Are the Goldens is a YA contemporary told from Nell’s POV as she journeys through her first year of high school. Nell is the younger of the Golden sisters by seventeen months. She idolizes her big sister, Layla, who has always had a good head on her shoulders. That’s what everyone has always said. Nell adores Layla. She is willing to do anything to protect her, to protect their sisterly bond — including lie for her. It’s been that way since they were little. Nell is the person in the family that smooths out the ripples, not causes them. But when does it become too much? When do you make the choice to do what you know in your heart is right, even if it might destroy that bond?

We Are the Goldens was a huge surprise for me. Yes, I requested it from NetGalley because it sounded like a good book, but it far exceeded my expectations. After about two pages, there was no putting this book down. People stopped by my house to hang out around the bonfire the night I started reading this, but I didn’t even realize anyone had arrived until thirty minutes later. Did I put my tablet down to entertain once I noticed? No, I glared at people as the noise level steadily increased, then retreated to my room and devoured the pages as if they were chocolate dipped in more chocolate. Yes, I will gladly risk an anti-social reputation in exchange for an awesome book. And hey, those people dropped by unannounced, so it’s not as if I invited people over, then ignored them. I’m not that rude. Well, probably not. 😉

Reinhardt’s writing style is both simple and complex. The pacing is like floating down a river with the sun high in the sky, the birds chirping above me and chipmunks scurrying through the tall grass along the shore, but there were more complex things happening under the surface. Things that would cause me to find a paddle and push myself further and further into the depth. I absolutely love the narration. It’s written like an open letter from Nell to her sister Layla. I imagined it might actually be a letter, or perhaps Nell was sitting at Layla’s death bed years in the future. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, and that, in itself, pushed me forward to find out.

We Are the Goldens is a riveting tale about the bond between sisters, and how even the strongest bond can become cracked over time as a relationship is tested. It’s a coming-of-age story about love, friendship, betrayal, and heartbreak. The ending. Gah, that ending! It was both perfect and frustrating. I just wanted more, but that is the selfish side of me that doesn’t want an awesome book to end.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves YA contemporary with depth, well fleshed-out characters, and will leave you with a major book hangover.

About the Author

dana reinhardt

Why don’t you have a bio section?

Because I hate writing about myself.

But wouldn’t that be easier than answering a whole bunch of FAQs?

Maybe. Probably. Go on…

So where are you from?

I’m from Los Angeles, but now I live in San Francisco. Except for the summers where I go back to Los Angeles in search of the sun.

What are you doing when you aren’t writing?

Laundry, usually. Sometimes dishes. And I really like to walk near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Why don’t you run instead of walk?

Running is hard. And I’m sort of lazy.

Have you ever had a real job?

Yes. Of course I have. I’ve waited tables, worked with adolescents in foster care, read the slush pile at a publishing house, and fact checked for a movie magazine. I also worked for FRONTLINE on PBS and Peter Jennings at ABC. I went to law school, which I know doesn’t count as a job, but hey, that was a lot of work.

What’s your writing day like? Do you stick to a routine?

I like to write in the mornings. Sometimes that means I have to get up really early. I try to write 700 words a day — about three pages. I know there are lots of writers out there who can write way more than that. I know this because writers like to tell you about how many words they’ve written on FACEBOOK. So I try not to look at FACEBOOK when I’m writing. And anyway, I’ve learned that 700 words are about all I’m good for on any given day, and if I write more than that I usually end up getting rid of most of it later.

What, are you lazy or something?

I already told you I’m lazy. But seriously, 700 words are a lot of words. 700 of them, to be precise.

Where do you get your ideas?

From someplace inside my head.

That’s not really an answer.

Yes, it is. And it’s as honest an answer as I can give.

Are your books autobiographical?

Not really. I’m not adopted, I’ve never told a lie that sent someone to jail, I’ve never built a house or had a brother go to war. But there are always things in my books that come from my life or from the lives of the people around me. It would be impossible to make up everything.

Why do you write young adult fiction?

Because I was a young adult when I fell in love with reading and I can remember how books made me feel back then. How they provided both comfort and escape. That might make me sound like a shut-in, but I wasn’t. I was just open to the experience books offered, probably more open than I am now as an adult. And I like writing for that sort of audience.

What exactly is young adult fiction?

Lots of people have thought long and hard about this question and have had many intelligent things to say about voice and how YA books can’t spend too much time on adult characters, etc. I don’t have anything to add to the debate except to say that YA should be a place to go in the bookstore or library if you are looking for a coming of age story, no matter how old you are.

Do you have a favorite book?


Don’t be coy, what is it?

To Kill a Mockingbird.

How come there aren’t any vampires or wizards in your books?

Hmmmm… good question. Maybe I should write about vampires and wizards.

No, you shouldn’t. You wouldn’t be very good at that.

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Did you wear a Soupy Sales sweatshirt when you were seven?

Does anybody even know who Soupy Sales is?

That’s what the Internet is for. Don’t avoid the question.

I’m sorry, is this really a Frequently Asked Question?

No. But, c’mon, tell us anyway.

Yes, I did. But I’m trying to portray myself as someone who wasn’t a total loser. So maybe you shouldn’t bring that up. And it also makes me sound ancient, which I’m not. Yet I had a Soupy Sales sweatshirt. And I loved it. It was yellow. And really soft.

You’re right. It does make you sound like a loser. Especially when combined with your earlier answer about escaping into books.

Well, if it helps, I was also a really good athlete. In fact, I was voted athlete of the year in 1983. Not nationally or anything. Just at my school.

No, that’s not really helping.

Well, I also played the electric bass.

Now you’re talking. That’s cool. Were you in a band or anything?

No. I gave it up after a few months. But I did play it once in public dressed up in a chicken costume.

Okay. I think we might be done here.

You sure? Isn’t there anything else you want to know about me?

If I think of anything I can just email you my questions, right?

Right. You can always send me an email to:

Dana’s Website | Amazon Profile | Goodreads

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Wife, homeschooling mom, YA author of paranormal, dark fantasy, and horror, huge fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, crafter, baker of sweet things, lover of the culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.