We Are the Goldens
Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children’s Books
Published May 27, 2014
Fifteen year-old Nell has always been comfortable in her older sister’s shadow. She and Layla are intertwined. Nell begins her first year of high school, delighted to share her school days with her sister again and thrilled by the interest of a handsome boy. Then she begins to sense something strange in Layla. Her sister is pulling away. Keeping secrets. And try as she might, Nell can’t understand why.
Desperate not to lose their closeness, Nell pursues Layla, being supportive and loyal. Earning her way back into Layla’s secrets. But learning Layla’s secrets comes with a price Nell isn’t sure she can pay: should she keep Layla’s confidence even if she believes Layla is doing something wrong and deeply destructive? As she watches her usually sensible sister slide further into her secret life, Nell realizes that the only way to save her sister may be to betray her.
Reading this novel is like taking that first ride on a roller coaster and feeling the adrenaline and rush building over each tick-tick-tick as the coaster inches up to the top of its track until its riders can look out over the imminent fearsome drops and wild loops ahead. Reinhardt nails the emotional turmoil of teen relationships and the anxiety of difficult choices, creating a powerful story about both the healing and destructive powers of love.
Nell and Layla go to a very liberal-minded school whose students, according to Nell, are more interested in briefly hooking up than actually dating or having relationships. Nell very briefly relates her own experience with boys. Details are scarce and the experiences are few. Nell sleeps over at her best friend Felix’s house while his parents are out of town, but the two are not intimate with each other.
References to a family friend who was rumored to have a drug problem. Nell and Layla attend a couple of parties at which teens guzzle alcoholic drinks. Nell indicates that a few people retreat to the porch to smoke a joint, but she doesn’t describe further nor does she participate.