Review: The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

November 5, 2013 General Fiction, Review, William Morrow 1

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 5, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062206459
  • Source: Publisher

Rain and her husband, TJ, a popular high school teacher, are struggling with infertility.  Each month Rain if faced with defeat at the news she isn’t pregnant.   She thought that this was going to be the most difficult challenge she and TJ would face together. She was wrong.

Seventeen-year-old Morgan Monetti has always been the daughter her mother, Dinah, could count on. She was an excellent student with plans to go away to college the following year.  Then it happened: an affair began between Morgan and her history teacher, Mr. Hill. When her secret was revealed, Morgan never let her parents believe that she had been taken advantage of or exploited. She knew what they were doing was wrong and assumed that since she was so close to her eighteenth birthday they could get away with it. Never did she believe that Mr. Hill would get in trouble for their indiscretions.  Her feelings were so strong that she did the unthinkable come the trial date. Rather than sit alongside her parents, she sat behind the man she loved.

Told from the perspectives of Rain, Morgan, and her mother, Dinah, The Whole Golden World brings to light a whole range of issues, from marriage and deceit, motherhood and consent.  The stories each of these women tell is remarkable. Rain, shocked at the news of the accusations against her husband immediately defends him despite the accumulating evidence. Morgan refused to be a victim, standing tall behind her feelings and responsibility to tell the truth. Dinah, so full of hope for her daughter, just wanting to protect her and give her the life she thinks she deserves. The reader follows each of these women as they juggle what is best for them and those around them.

This novel is much more than its summary suggests. It goes far beyond the story of a teacher/student affair. It goes to the very core of how we, as women, are portrayed. How we are expected to respond to certain situations, and how it is imperative that we stand up for what we believe in.  That’s not to say that these characters don’t have faults for they most certainly do.  I am certain readers will have very strong opinions about each of the characters. I, personally, found my opinion changing as the story played out and we saw the true face of the characters.

Riggle faces a truly difficult subject matter and proves that, in some cases, the guilty party isn’t obvious. In cases like this, we most often assume that the teacher is the perpetrator, the individual pursuing the student. But what if that isn’t the case? What if the lines of guilt are vague and wavering? While this topic matter is emotional and difficult to face, Riggle does it with an intensity and respect not seen before in other books like it.  It’s obvious that she developed each of her characters with an intense amount of thought, patience, and consideration. She illustrates that it only takes a single lapse in judgement, one single moment in time, to forever alter one’s life and those around them.

Since there are so many topics of discussion in this novel, I highly recommend it to book clubs. After reading it, you will want to discuss it with others. This is a book that still has me thinking, long after I finished read it. Highly, highly recommended.


One Response to “Review: The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle”

  1. Stacy
    Twitter: thenovellife

    this does sound like a perfect book club book! i’m definitely recommending this one ~ both my adult daughters are in my book club and i’d love to hear their thoughts on this one…especially as both are in college