About the Book:
Marit Weisenberg’s This Golden State follows a family on the run, a restless teenage daughter hungry for the truth, and the simple DNA test that threatens their carefully crafted world
The Winslow family lives by five principles:
1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.
Poppy doesn’t know why her family has been running her whole life, but she does know that there are dire consequences if they’re ever caught. Still, her curiosity grows each year, as does her desire for real friends and the chance to build on something, instead of leaving behind school projects, teams, and crushes at a moment’s notice.
When a move to California exposes a crack in her parents’ airtight planning, Poppy realizes how fragile her world is. Determined to find out the truth, she mails in a home DNA test. Just as she starts to settle into her new life and even begins opening up to a boy in her math class, the forgotten test results bring her crashing back to reality.
Unraveling the shocking truth of her parents’ real identities, Poppy realizes that the DNA test has undone decades of careful work to keep her family anonymous—and the past is dangerously close to catching up to them. Determined to protect her family but desperate for more, Poppy must ask: How much of herself does she owe her family? And is it a betrayal to find her own place in the world?
What a refreshing, addictive story!
I used to devour YA books and then somehow, I lost interest in the genre. I am very happy to report that ‘This Golden State’ is a perfect example of the YA genre done right. It has sort of a thriller-lite plot mixed with mystery mixed with the classic elements of a great YA story. I was hooked from the first page! I read this book in two sittings.
Poppy is an intelligent, empathetic teenager who has been literally on the run with her family for as long as she can remember. The author makes it very believable that Poppy has no clue about her background or why she and her family move around so often, and so quickly. Her parents, as loving and attentive as they are, have always forbidden the use of computers and cell phones. Poppy and her younger sister Emma have never questioned these rules. Poppy loves her parents and accepts that this is just the way things are.
Until the family moves to California, the Golden State. Poppy loves her new town and enrolls in an advanced mathematics class for the summer where she meets another student, Harrison, who is the complete opposite of Poppy. He is from a famous family and he himself was the subject of notoriety as well. This of course is a recipe for disaster for a girl who is trying to keep her identity secret. But Poppy doesn’t even know what her real identity is, until she and Harry take a DNA test as part of their math class.
There is a bit of historical fiction in this book, based on real-life events that I remember very well. The fact that the author made me care so much about Poppy, her family and Harry should tell you how well-written this book is. I loved how there was absolutely no unnecessary drama and how creative the plot was. This is a mystery, Young Adult Romance, and suspense thriller all rolled into one very believable story. I also loved how Poppy was interested in STEM subjects and how the relationship between Harry and Poppy evolved throughout the story.
This is also a very poignant coming of age story, as Poppy begins to see her tiny family unit in a more realistic light, and as she quite literally begins to discover who she really is. My heart was literally racing during the last 20% of this book. I loved this story and can’t wait to see it come to life as a series or movie. Highly recommend!
(Thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.)