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The Golden State

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,866 ratings  ·  508 reviews
In Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent―her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a “proc ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by MCD
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,866 ratings  ·  508 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Library overdrive Audiobook....read by
Amanda Dolan

This novel might have been good...
Parts were engaging...
I was exhausted- drained - and agitated.
Let me try to explain...
I ‘did’ admire the prose - FOR AWHILE -
Wearing a puzzled semi- smile ...
I ‘did’ enjoy parts of the story itself. I even ‘kinda’ liked the idea of what the author was going for in her style of writing. I liked it until...
a reader CAN’T be expected to maintain the rhythm of intensity of sooooo much c
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, recs
My full review can be found on BookBrowse.

Set in the High Desert of California, The Golden State explores the emotional trials of early motherhood. The novel, written in the stream of consciousness mode, centers on the inner life of Daphne Nielsen, a new mother who suffers a nervous breakdown at the novel's start and flees her university job in San Francisco. Daphne drives to the desert town of Altavista, where she has inherited a mobile home from her grandparents; there, she has nothing to do b
Tyler Goodson
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
The Golden State is a novel of sparse landscape and deep emotion. When Daphne and her baby drive to the high desert of Northern California, they are alone in a way that feels enervating and dangerous. Daphne is written with such a strong sense of feeling, it inevitably carries over to the reader. You are filled with love for Honey, Engin, the old crone Alice, and hate for the unfairness of the situation they have found themselves in. I was so sad for this novel to end.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Have I ever read a book like this? I mean, a book that really understands and dignifies the daily mixture of work and boredom that comes from spending your day with a toddler? I don't think I have. I always get annoyed by kids who get paraded around in books or on television as convenient props that disappear so adults can have meaningful conversations or go out on important errands. Nope. Uh-uh. That is NOT what life is like. Lydia Kiesling knows that if you're a mom and you're tired, you've go ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was so undecided on this one most of the way through - it's more literary than what I usually read and enjoy, but at the same time it cuts through to some issues that are pressing (the banal horror of immigration issues) and endlessly fascinating/horrifying (the State of Jefferson backers), and for that reason I couldn't put it down.

It reminds me in ways of Woman No. 17 and After Birth and And Now We Have Everything, in that it's very concerned with who we are as women outside of being mother
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful debut. My only criticism (and I've seen this from others) is no commas....it doesn't so much cause confusion as detract from the flow of the reading but overall this book has good narrative fluidity. I'm a slow reader and I read it in a day and a half.

I wish she had named her daughter anything but Honey because every time I read that name, all I could think of was that wretched little Honey-Boo-Boo.

And when she meets the people that want to secede from California and she says "it's nic
Diane Yannick
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’ve been trying too many debut authors. I need to go back to my reliable favorites for a bit. The minutiae of parenting was described in detail. Way too much detail for me. Too many diapers, cheese sticks and tantrums. If you’re really nostalgic for your wee 16 month old, this could be your book as Honey is pretty cute. Motherhood is depicted realistically—frustration and pure love all mixed together. The rural town in Northern California was described with care.

I felt that the writing was a mi
3.5 stars
Daphne is at her wit’s end and she has many reasons to be.
~ She has been torn from her Turkish husband, Engin due to an “accidental click of the mouse”. His green card stripped, the two are now hundreds of miles away.
~ She worries over her husband. Her cynical nature has little faith in bureaucrats. Will he ever make it home to their family?
~ Her insecurities abound. She can’t help but wonder how she compares to other women. With her imagination running wild she fears Engin may cheat
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kiesling did not come to play. If her aim was to evoke the tedium and bright love of parenting, the infernal frustration of dealing with racist and Islamophobic bureaucracy, the stomach-dropping feeling of complicity in hazy situations, she has nailed it. I love novels where the plot is launched with a woman running away from her life and Daphne is such a well-drawn character she pulls you in and suddenly you care deeply about her, baby Honey and the people they meet.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot going on here--primarily the tedium, joy and primordial anxiety of early parenthood, but also things like the bureaucratic absurdities that befall a character caught up in US immigration laws, rural Westerners feuding with the Feds, and the toll of accumulated grief. The life-with-baby parts required a bit of patience, but Kiesling's first-person protagonist kept my sympathies and didn't make me feel all judgy and impatient...and the payoff was worth it. ...more

Let me start by saying that I adored this novel. I have spent more time thinking about how to review it than I did reading it. (It was compulsively easy to read.) During the days I spent thinking about what I wanted to say, I have gone out to lunch, picked up new glasses, had dinner and plenty of drinks at a music event and listened to the hour long interview with Lydia Kiesling on the Otherppl podcast. Meanwhile the library due date for the book has come and gone. Time, as they say, is up.

Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
There is a demographic out there for whom this story will have greater appeal, but I am not part of it. I do think that young adults, single parents, and those who struggle more with the sacrifices required to raise children (and everybody does to some extent) will find plenty that resonates with them. Moms who have been taken for granted while doing yeoman's work keeping their families humming will perhaps have more appreciation. I found Daphne interesting, to be sure, and moderately sympatheti ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
1 star

I really hate to dis a debut book, a new author, but this is definitely a 'do not read' book. I actually listened to this book, however I doubt that it made a big difference.

The story of a young woman - a whiny young woman - who along with her screaming, tantrum throwing baby leaves her job, moves away and makes new friends, since her Turkish husband returns to Turkey for an education. This book is just blah, blah, blah! Either the child is throwing a tantrum and screaming or the mother i
Nov 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF. This book is boring me, so gotta bail. Taking care of a toddler can be brief moments of joy interspersed among frustrating and tedious days. Reading almost 300 pages about it even more so. There are some other political issues highlighted in the book, but there’s just not enough here to keep me reading. 😴😴
Lolly K Dandeneau
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
“This is my house, ” I say aloud, and everything in the house contradicts me, down to its dubious foundation.

It is to this house in the desert of Altavista with her baby girl Honey that Daphne flees, leaving behind her work at the University of San Francisco, a student who has never quite finished her PhD despite encouragement from those around her because “working at the institute has amply illustrated the precarious sh*tshow that is a life of
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I saw a review of this book that said they didn’t like the stream of consciousness or lack of punctuation. This made me laugh because that’s exactly why people love ULYSSES. In many ways, this book is like ULYSSES. It’s nine days in the life of a 30-something who’s trying to juggle raising a child and helping her Turkish husband get his green card back. But it’s actually more than that. It’s about the racism at the heart of this country (yes, even in California) and the search for meaning. Which ...more
Katie Long
Another meh book from #TOB2019. A young mother tries to flee the stress of her life after her husband is deported, under complicated circumstances, and a crisis at work, to her grandparents' home in rural Alta Vista. Kiesling does well to create a feeling of isolation, loneliness, and frustration throughout, but I am left wondering what the point of all of it is as it all feels aimless. There isn't really anything Daphne can do about her husband's immigration status, so there is a lot of what am ...more
Bob Lopez
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
What even is this book? A lot of minutiae little plot, the most interesting part was the last section of the book with Alice in the woods, and I don’t know if it was genuinely interesting or if it was bc the rest of the book was such a snore. The immigration issues occupied so little of the book it’s a wonder why it was even included.
Alison Hardtmann
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
The Golden State begins with a woman's sudden decision to leave work mid-morning, pack a few bags, collect her baby from daycare and drive out to the high country of northern California, where she has inherited her grandparent's house. She misses the space and the smell of the air and the sheer weight of working, caring for her daughter, managing to pay the bills and all the daily hassles of life in San Francisco have worn her down. Her husband, though a bit of dishonesty on the part of Immigrat ...more
Jessica Sullivan
This profound and insightful debut novel is ALL about the voice, with stream-of-consciousness prose that’s so sharp and wry. I think some readers may struggle with it. I loved it.

Daphne is in the midst of a crisis and needs to escape. Her husband has been stuck in Turkey for eight months, his green card revoked and unable to return to America due to what amounts to be an infuriatingly bureaucratic “click-of-the-mouse error.” Left mothering her toddler alone for the time being, Daphne is lonely,
Mary Robinson
While I enjoyed the plot and character development in "The Golden State" by Lydia Kiesling, the first few chapters were tough reading as I adapted to the author's style (lack of punctuation (particularly commas), run on sentences, stream of conscious narrative). The intensely told story of Daphne, a young mother who's husband has been sent back to Turkey due to an "input error" on his green card, of sorts. She works for a university foundation, assisting students who wish to study in Asia (among ...more
Erin Glover
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Honey falls. A lot. Her forehead is probably covered in purple bruises. But that's what toddlers do.

Daphne, thirty-something, leaves her grant-writing job at a university one day on a whim, scoops up her 18-month-old daughter from daycare, and heads out north from San Francisco in her old Buick. They drive four hours south of the Oregon border to Alta Vista, a fictional town where her grandmother left her a trailer. She delights in her daughter’s antics for days on end, while trying to stave off
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was hesitant to read this as I have no experience with being a young mother, but Kiesling pulled me in. She does a great job capturing Daphne's claustrophobic fear. The lack of commas annoyed me but not enough to rate it below 5 stars. I love books that take me completely out of my own experience. This did so perfectly. ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-fiction
There was no point to this story. The book dragged on and was repetitive. Few, if any, likable characters. Found no humor in this story - very tedious.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it

“The Golden State” is a literary tale of a mother on the lam. Author Lydia Kiesling provides the reader with authentic feelings of a mother of a toddler; a working mother who is examining whether her work or staying with her child is most important. And then there are those insecure feelings of motherhood: am I feeding my child a nutritious meal? Am I providing a stimulating environment? Am I disciplining my child correctly or am I too lenient or too harsh? All those themes are reason enough to
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Video review

Splendidly crafted portrait of a stressed mind going through a breakdown. Terrible advertisement for the actual Golden State.
Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves
DNF at 3%
I immediately didn’t like the writing style…it was wordy, overly descriptive, and full of run-on sentences. I knew pretty quickly I wouldn’t be able to tolerate 300 pages of it.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ever read the right book at the right time? This October I gave birth to my first child. Reading Kiesling’s account of parenting a small child and the associated banalities, joys, and anxieties really hit home for me. It all felt so real, from the relationship with the crone, to the secessionist movement - it all just worked.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much truth in this fully interior, stream of consciousness style narrative about parenting a small child, secession-fringe politics, and injustices of the U.S. immigration system. Never hits a wrong note.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can see where this will be a miss for some readers but I found it fascinating in its minutia. The Golden State was a fantastic portrayal of a woman on the edge… Daphne is a single parent to a toddler as her husband remains in Turkey due to some Homeland Security loophole. She has a good administrative job at an Institute of Islamic studies at a local university, but she hates it, in particular since two graduate students connected with the Institute were in an accident abroad which resulted in ...more
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Play Book Tag: The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling- 2.5 stars rounded down 7 20 Mar 29, 2019 02:28PM  
Prize Readers: 2019 TOB Shortlist: The Golden State 2 24 Dec 27, 2018 08:35AM  

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