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The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

The Whole Golden World

by Kristina Riggle

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The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle opens up with a trial in progress and a family in crisis/conflict, so we know right from the start that something untoward is going to happen in the small town of Arbor Valley, Michigan. After a series of rejections, high school senior Morgan Monetti turns to her married calculus teacher, T.J. Hill, for support. She believes she is mature enough to have an affair with him. Morgan is sure that it is love. She believes his wife, Rain, doesn't understand him.

Morgan's mother, Dinah, is already overwhelmed raising her younger special needs twin teenage sons and running a coffee shop near the school. Her husband, and Morgan's father, is an assistant principal at the high school and is emotionally distant and often absent, leaving everything to Dinah. In the past Dinah has treated Morgan as if she is older than her years. After the arrest of T.J. and the truth comes out about Morgan and T.J. Dinah's world is feeling even more embattled than it already felt. As the trial begins, the Monetti family faces a backlash of cruel gossip and graffiti from the popular opinion of the community.

Rain, the wife of T.J., has been going through fertility treatments, trying to get pregnant. She assumes that T.J.'s story - that any affair was all in Morgan's head - is true and she stands by him, supporting him. We learn what really happened, as well as more about T.J. Hill.

The story slowly unfolds through the eyes of these three female characters. After the opening when the trial has started, the novel jumps back in time so we understand what was going on before the current events came to light. Riggle does an excellent job opening up the inner thoughts of her female leads to our scrutiny as they go through their daily lives handling the stress around them. All of them feel like real people, with strengths and flaws, but ultimately women who are trying to do what is right and what they believe.

I sort of wanted to see T.J. skewered and thrown over a BBQ pit. That part, having to read about a married adult having an affair with a teenage girl just really ticked me off. Yes, lots of people think a seventeen year old is old enough to know better. But, come on. Isn't a 29/30 year old man old enough to really know better and should have the ability to say no to the initiation of any intimate contact? Why is the teen girl thrown out as a Lolita when the freakin' adult male is right there too? Sheesh. (Recent items in the news just make me want to yell about this even more.) T.J. acted like a spoiled brat who couldn't understand why he should be held up to any higher standard.

Obviously, The Whole Golden World really captured my attention as I anxiously read to the end. It is always an easy book to read. People do make bad choices. But there are also plenty of people who like to cast blame on others and not themselves. Taking personal responsibility for your actions is one of the signs of a healthy adult. Mistakes happen. Taking responsibility for your part in them and not making or allowing any excuses to be made is mature. But, more importantly, understanding the role and power that a position of authority naturally has over anyone in a subordinate position is key.

I'm now going to look up Riggles previous book, Real Life & Liars, and plan to read it sometime soon. If an author can capture my attention, hold it, and get me all worked up over her book, then I think she did a great job, don't you?

Very Highly Recommended

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher on Edelweiss for review purposes for TLC.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
So, the summary doesn't actually sound that interesting to me... But I really want to read it because I like the cover so much. Yes, I know it's silly. Fingers crossed against another Song of the Silk Road debacle...
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Story about a mature 17 yr old who has an affair with her high school math teacher. As the story unfolds, the reader sees how many others are affected by this such as her parents and siblings, the teachers wife, brother and parents etc. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Story about a mature 17 yr old who has an affair with her high school math teacher. As the story unfolds, the reader sees how many others are affected by this such as her parents and siblings, the teachers wife, brother and parents etc. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
This is an intriguing subject, and the author does a good job of presenting it in such a way that it seems as though the affair “just happened” - that it wasn’t planned, that no one was guilty of deception or manipulation, that no one was neglectful or uncaring. But as the story progresses, being told from three different characters, the reader sees the various characters’ flaws that led to the affair between a teenager and her married teacher. As their worlds crumble, no one seems to come out whole – not Morgan, not T. J., and not Rain. And yet, some find inner strength in an impossible situation to rally and survive. And all are forced to face a reality not none had envisioned. Someone must take the blame; someone must be held accountable. Or do they all share in the guilt? A fascinating tale, well-imagined and well-told. ( )
  Maydacat | Jan 24, 2016 |
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To my parents, my teachers,
my mentors throughout my teen years:
thank you for taking me seriously,
and also for knowing when not to.
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Dinah felt the turning away like the snap of a rubber band that's been pulled too far, finally lashing back, leaving a welt.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062206451, Paperback)


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:48 -0400)

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?… (more)

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