Go to main contentsGo to search barGo to main menu
Friday, July 19, 2024 at 5:30 PM

Allison's Book Report: “California Golden” by Melanie Benjamin

Allison's Book Report: “California Golden” by Melanie Benjamin

As we move into the first week of fall, I have to admit that I have been uncharacteristically resistant to letting summer go. Don't get me wrong. I am loving that snappy chill in the air early in the morning, the football chatter coming from my TV, and I have already busted out the fall candles. I am always here for everything pumpkin spice. But a tiny part of me is just a little sad to see summer fade into fall – it just feels like it happened so quickly.

No worries, though. This week's book is a great way to feel the last of the summery vibes of the year. “California Golden” is the newest book from Melanie Benjamin, the author of “The Aviator's Wife” and several other bestsellers. “California Golden” centers around the Donnelly sisters as they navigate the early days of 1960s California surf culture. In a time when women were expected to be diligent housewives and mothers, Carol Donnelly is breaking all the rules as a legendary surfer competing in the mostly male-dominated sport. Her young daughters, Mindy and Ginger, are left to fend for themselves while Carol is physically and emotionally absent. The girls start cutting school to spend their days at the beach, chasing their mother’s elusive affection and learning to surf. The surfing comes easily to Mindy, but Ginger, who is two years younger, never truly feels at ease in the water.

As the sisters grow up, their relationship ebbs and flows like the ocean. Mindy's surfing career blossoms, and she lives the life of a celebrity – beachside love affairs, parties at the Playboy Club, and eventually, a USO tour in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Ginger searches for the family and sense of belonging she never had and gets sucked into the dangerous counterculture of drugs and cults. No matter how different their paths become, Mindy and Ginger remain connected by the unorthodox childhood that they survived together.

“California Golden” is, at its heart, a novel about three women living in uncertain times and the rocky-at-times relationships that get them through, even when their unconventional lifestyles don't meet the expectations of the society around them. 

“California Golden” will make you want to turn on the Beach Boys and get lost in the 60s surf scene. It is full of the sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll we associate with the time and overflowing with emotion and heart. “California Golden” will transport readers to the beach and is the perfect way to say goodbye to summer. Grab a copy of this book, settle into your hammock, and enjoy the first week of fall – then pop over to my Instagram @allison.the.reader, where I will be reading and rambling as usual, and let me know what books are helping you to usher in a new season.

Allison Diegel is the Executive Chaos Coordinator at the Diegel Home for Wayward Girls and Their Many Pets here in her hometown of Fallon. She has been reading since before she could talk, and now she likes doing lots of both.