Book Review: The Whole Golden World

November 1, 2013 book review, coming of age, Kristina Riggle, teacher student relationship, William Morrow 3

Written By:  Kristina Riggle

Published By:  William Morrow & Company  November 5, 2013

Length:  448 Pages

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss e galley

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.

My Thoughts:
As the story begins the setting is a courtroom, and Morgan has just moved to sit behind the defendant, TJ, her teacher, on trial for having sex with her.  Then we are taken back nine months, the beginning of Morgan’s senior year of high school.  The beginning of  the journey this book takes it’s readers on.

I was drawn in by the complex and intriguing problems presented in The Whole Golden World , and I kept reading because of Riggle’s amazing writing.  Morgan thought and behaved exactly like a 17 year old girl who believed she was both all grown up and in love.  Her character was detailed perfectly, making poor choices, not thinking through her actions, feeling bullet proof in things she is doing.  Morgan is of course mostly wrong, as many teens are in their less than mature emotions.  It’s difficult for her to see the reality of her actions.

Her mom, Dinah,is presented as having tunnel vision.  She makes excuses for her twin sons, Morgan’s brothers, who were very premature and have struggled in school.  She over celebrates the small things others would see as expected.  It appears she’s got her priorities in all the wrong places.  She defends Morgan at every turn, and then she finally begins to see the deeper problem in this plan. Dinah sees this situation through her daughter’s eyes, and she helps her to look at the bigger picture.

Rain, the wife of TJ the accused teacher, is one of the most interesting characters.  She has a single minded pursuit, to become pregnant.  She’s struggled and with her focus on just one thing, she’s missed that her marriage is stale and in danger.  I’m shocked at her reaction when TJ is arrested, you’ll have to read and let me know what you think.

Throughout most of the book I didn’t like the characters, they are all flawed and somewhat blinded by their own personal needs. Happily by the end two of them did do the right things and I was pleased to actually like them.  The story is well done, honest and at times painfully so.  I highly recommend this book to parents and anyone who enjoys a good drama.

You can learn more about Kristina Riggle on her website.

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3 Responses to “Book Review: The Whole Golden World”

  1. Sandy Nawrot

    Sounds a little edgy…teachers sleeping with students always put me off a little bit, but it happens all the time. Horrid abuse of authority! But the dynamics in the story do seem to be complicated and fascinating.

  2. Jenn's Bookshelves

    Just finishing this one up myself! I, too, didn’t have positive feelings about any of the characters but, by the end, my opinion changed. I did a lot of yelling at the book (and the characters) while reading this one! Very well done!

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