Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Julie's Review: The Whole Golden World

Summary: Kristina Riggle, the acclaimed author of Real Life & Liars, returns with a thought-provoking novel inspired by real-life events. Seventeen-year-old Morgan Monetti shocks her parents and her community with one simple act: She chooses to stand by the man everyone else believes has exploited her, popular high school teacher TJ Hill. Quietly walking across a crowded courtroom to sit behind TJ, and not beside her parents, she announces herself as the adult she believes herself to be. But her mother, Dinah, wants justice. Dinah is a fighter, and she believes with all her heart and soul that TJ is a man who took advantage of her daughter. He is a criminal who should be brought to justice, no matter what the cost to his family. Rain, TJ's wife, is shocked that her handsome, loving, respected husband has been accused of a terrible crime. But has her desperation to start a family closed her eyes to the fault lines in her marriage? And can she face the painful truths about herself and her husband? Told from the perspectives of these three remarkable women, The Whole Golden World navigates the precarious territory between childhood and adulthood, raising questions about love and manipulation, marriage and motherhood, consent and responsibility. It's a novel both shocking and unforgettable in its power. ~powells.com

Review: My favorite part of The Whole Golden World was the end. Not because I was happy to see it end because it was horrible, it wasn't, I was happy to see two of the main characters grow backbones and do the right thing for themselves. Ms. Riggle has a keen sense of human nature because this book shows both the good and the bad of it. It shows how we are willing to believe something to protect ourselves even when the truth is staring us straight in the face.

We are introduced to three very different women and yet they are similar in strength in the end. Dinah, Morgan's mom and ultimate helicopter mom. She will do anything for her kids, even if it means they never take responsibility for their actions. Rain, the accused teacher's wife, who is so blinded by her need to get pregnant she doesn't spot the real trouble in the room. Morgan, 17 year old student who thinks she's older and wiser than her years, who quickly learns that she's not.

We also have TJ Hill, the male teacher that Morgan gets involved with. Do I think he was a predator? No, I don't. I think he is a man who was extremely insecure in who he was and needed validation outside of his marriage. Was he absolutely wrong to get involved with Morgan? Yes. Should he have known better no matter what Morgan said? Yes. Was he the adult? I don't know. Just because someone is of age, doesn't mean they are the adult in the situation. Some people never grown up. They always want to be the center of attention. This was TJ. He never felt he lived up to the potential in his mind. In some ways I felt sorry for him because he was never going to feel he was good enough for anyone or anything. That doesn't excuse his behavior but it helps understand his motivation. I didn't think he was as horrible as Celeste in Tampa. She was a true predator.

Your feelings towards these women is constantly changing as you get deeper into the novel. One minute you are feeling for them and the next you want to wring their necks. This is a true testament to Ms. Riggle's writing skills. She writes the novel by starting out with the trial and then flashing back to the events that led to the trial. It works effectively in a few ways because you are always wondering what happened to get to this point, what will happen to all the people involved, will they recover from the incident? These are always flowing through your mind as you tear through the novel.

If you like character driven novels then, The Whole Golden World is for you. I have a few Kristina Riggle novels in my large TBR pile and I hope to get to them soon.

Final Take: 4.75/5

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour!

TLC Book Tour Schedule:
Tuesday, November 5th: Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, November 7th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, November 11th: she treads softly
Tuesday, November 12th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, November 13th: A Novel Review
Thursday, November 14th: Lectus
Monday, November 18th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Tuesday, November 19th: Girls Just Reading
Wednesday, November 20th: The Well-Read Redhead
Monday, November 25th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, November 26th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, November 27th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, November 28th: Time 2 Read
Monday, December 2nd: Read Lately
Tuesday, December 3rd: Books in the Burbs
Wednesday, December 4th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, December 5th: The Little Reader Library
Monday, December 9th: Sweet Southern Home

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