Tag Archives: wendy lamb books

ARC Review – We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

18189424Title: We Are the Goldens

Author: Dana Reinhardt

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: 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.

Huge thank you to Wendy Lamb Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I don’t really have much to say about this book other than it was lovely. I loved the writing, Nell’s voice, and the pace of this story. Nell is less than two years younger than her sister and she believes the two of them are connected, that their lives are intertwined. So when Nell gets to join her sister in high school, she’s beyond excited. She sees herself following in her sister’s footsteps, and basically becoming her. Only that’s not what happens…

I loved the relationship between the two sisters. I was never close with my own sister growing up, but we did find each other later on in life and now we are best friends. I wish I’d had a better relationship with her when we were younger, and I envied Nell and Layla. But I totally can understand some points in their relationships. I’m actually the older sister, so I could connect with some of the ways Layla was feeling, especially when she wanted her own space. 

I loved the ebb and flow of this story. It’s told in 2nd person, so Nell is telling the story to her sister and the entire time I was like ‘omg is Layla dead?’ and then spent the entire time trying to figure out if she killed herself over what must have become a scandal, with her dating a teacher. But then at the end we never really find out… maybe this was an apology. Maybe it was Nell explaining to Layla why she was going to do what she did. Or maybe it was a story to a dead sister. 

I hope it wasn’t though. And I guess the ending leaves you wondering because you’re supposed to hope. The entire story is told juxtaposed against the death of two brothers whom Layla and Nell both knew. One brother died (possibly from drugs) and the other one followed later (possibly a suicide). I want to believe that Nell was able to help her sister and that they were able to survive together, because I can’t imagine Nell without her sister. 

This was a super fast read and it totally drew me in. I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to know so badly how things were going to turn out. So when I did get to the end and was left to wonder… well that dropped it down a star. I’m not a huge fan of open-ended novels. But the writing, the sister and family relationships, even Nell’s relationship with her best friend Felix… they were all so rich and detailed and I loved them.

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ARC Review – What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn

18209349Title:  What We Hide

Author: Marthe Jocelyn

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don’t. Brenda won’t tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother’s memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.

Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.

Huge thank you to Tundra Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am torn when it comes to What We Hide. It has an intriguing premise with a lot of mystery surrounding the characters within the story, and each character is connected to another by a small thread. The writing is gorgeous, it keeps you guessing, and yet, I struggled to connect with it. 

There are so many perspectives in this novel, and I think that’s what’s problematic about it. I never felt like I understood a lot of the characters or their motives, so a lot of their secrets didn’t feel naturally exposed, and to be honest I ended up with more questions than answers, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it made for a confusing story a lot of the time.

There is also so much intertextuality in this book, which you don’t see in a lot of YA, but when you do it can be a nice break in the story. In What We Hide however, it just become more questions and often it made the text very jarring to read because the transition between letters, scripts and first person perspectives feel so mashed together instead of being placed in such a way that the reader would understand WHY the change in format.

I guess for me, it boils down to taste. I think with the right reader, this story will resonate well, but for me I just felt lost and confused a lot of the time. Even when I got to the end I found myself asking more questions and not feeling satisfied with results presented to me. What We Hide is not a bad book, but it definitely requires a ton of patience on the reader’s part.