Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: Golden State

Golden State
By Michelle Richmond
Bantam February 2014
304 pages
Read via Netgalley

Golden State: A Novel

Julie Walker is a woman on the verge of big changes. Her beloved state of California is voting today on seceding from the United States. Her split with her husband Tom could be finalized today. Heather, her pregnant and estranged sister, has come back into her life after causing a terrible tragedy for Julie. A man from her past unexpectedly shows up and threatens Julie's future and the lives of everyone she holds dear. 

The characters are a great strength in this story. Julie is a captivating protagonist as she guides us through her past, her present, and the chaotic streets of San Francisco. Although we spend just a little time with Heather and only meet Tom through Julie's memories, they both seem vividly real and we want to learn more about them. It's a wonderful experience as a reader when you feel like you could follow these characters through several books.

But Golden State suffers from tackling too many things at once. We have the overarching chaos and uncertainty of a state looking to separate from its country and all of the ways it will affect its citizens. Julie is on the verge of a divorce and is thinking back through the joys and sorrows of her marriage, wondering if she could have saved it. Since Julie works as a doctor in a VA hospital, the reader is privy to the horrors of war and the effects of PTSD. This story also focuses on parenthood - Heather is about to become a mother and Julie's marriage is healed and then broken by the possibility of children. And have I mentioned that Julie's old friend Dennis is holding her hospital staff hostage? While these are all very interesting threads, this all happens during 24 hours and it can be overwhelming to keep track of it all.

Golden State is a book that will keep you turning pages. There is immediate danger, both from Dennis and from the hazards of a state filled with protests and riots. But there is also a sense of reflection in these pages, as Julie looks back at the way her relationships worked and why they failed. This is a wonderful choice for the reader who can balance a lot of storylines at once and loves stories with both tension and reflection. 


  1. Thx for this review. It's an interesting premise, I don't know this author. SD

    1. I read her novel The Year of Fog pre-blogging (as if such a time existed!). I hope you give her books a try!

  2. As Sandra quite rightly pointed out, Golden State has an interesting premise. However, whilst I was reading the first paragraph of this review I couldn't help but think if there was too much going on in the one novel... But at the same time I'm still left interested.
    Bits & Bobs

    1. Yes, there is a quite a bit going on in this one! I was really invested in the characters but it made my head spin a time or two...

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