Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

The Whole Golden World
An astonishing novel from the acclaimed author of Keepsake that pushes the boundaries of storytelling. At turns shocking, provocative, and heart-wrenching, and inspired by a true story The Whole Golden World forces us to ask the question "How well do we really know our children?"

To the outside Diana and Joe have a perfect family-three lovely children, a beautiful home, and a café that's finally taking off. But their world is rocked when it's discovered that their oldest daughter, 17-year-old Morgan is having an affair with her married teacher, TJ Hill.

Their town rocks with the scandal. When the case goes to trial, the family is torn further apart when Morgan sides not with her parents-as a manipulated teenage girl; but with TJ himself-as a woman who loves a 30-year-old man.

Told from the perspectives of Morgan, Diana, and TJ's wife, Rain, this is an unforgettable story that fully explores the surprising, even shocking, events that change the lives of two families.
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Kat's Review
The Whole Golden World is like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion. It begins with the trial, so the reader knows where the relationship between Morgan and her teacher is going, only the glimpse inside Morgan's thoughts shows her to be a defiant participant in the trial process. This sets up an intriguing start to a novel that delves into the nuances of power in relationships, dynamics of teacher and student, the often murky waters of a victim identifying with her abuser, and the harsh judgment of a society quick to judge and point to the finger at those they should be protecting.

Despite the subject matter being difficult, there is a lot to love in this book. TJ is an overgrown boy, prone to fits of anger and selfishness, who finds himself turning away from his pregnant wife and into the arms of his student. Morgan is a 17 year old "good girl", who never gets in trouble, and spends hours practicing her music. When she notices that her attractive, young teacher seems interested in her, she feels like an adult, and embarks on what she thinks is an adult relationship with him.
Over time, she begins to see glimpses of his real personality, but finds ways to blame it on the difficulties he's having with his wife. In turn, we see a wife torn between the happiness of her pregnancy and the pain of a relationship on shaky ground, a man whose jealousy of his brother and inability to take responsibility for his own actions take over his life, and a family struggling to deal with teenagers, job insecurities, and the scandal that rocks the town. I thought the way the author showed how someone could  be a victim even when they thought they were in control of a situation was very well done. One of the best books I've read this year.
Rating: All-Consuming
The author was able to get into the heads of multiple characters, and I felt create a fairly authentic picture of how a scandal such as this would affect the different players involved. I was hooked from the start.
I received a complimentary copy of this title from Edelweiss and the publisher in return for an honest review.

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