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This Golden State

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The Winslow family lives by five principles:

1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

Poppy doesn’t know why her family has been running her whole life, but she does know that there are dire consequences if they’re ever caught. Still, her curiosity grows each year, as does her desire for real friends and the chance to build on something, instead of leaving behind school projects, teams, and crushes at a moment’s notice.

When a move to California exposes a crack in her parents’ airtight planning, Poppy realizes how fragile her world is. Determined to find out the truth, she mails in a home DNA test. Just as she starts to settle into her new life and even begins opening up to a boy in her math class, the forgotten test results bring her crashing back to reality.

Unraveling the shocking truth of her parents’ real identities, Poppy realizes that the DNA test has undone decades of careful work to keep her family anonymous—and the past is dangerously close to catching up to them. Determined to protect her family but desperate for more, Poppy must ask: How much of herself does she owe her family? And is it a betrayal to find her own place in the world?

Marit Weisenberg’s This Golden State follows a family on the run, a restless teenage daughter hungry for the truth, and the simple DNA test that threatens their carefully crafted world

400 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 1, 2022

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Marit Weisenberg

4 books81 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 582 reviews
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
815 reviews12.7k followers
March 9, 2022
1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

These are the rules that 17-year-old Poppy Winslow has followed her entire life. When her family moves to California, her will to continue to follow these rules is tested.

This Golden State is a well-written YA coming-of-age story embedded in a thriller with a bit of romance mixed in.

Poppy, her parents, and her 8-year-old sister have been on the run for Poppy’s entire life. Poppy isn’t sure what her family is running from, and she doesn’t even know her parents’ real names. No matter the circumstances, when it is time to leave a life behind, she dutifully packs up her belongings and adapts to a new identity once again. But all changes when Poppy’s family moves to California. On a whim, she takes a DNA test and unravels all that her parents have tried to hide, exposing shocking secrets about their pasts.

Narrated solely by Poppy, I loved her character. Her voice was authentic, and she immediately drew me into the novel. She has been isolated her entire life, and those feelings of isolation, which are apparent in so many ways: not having access to social media, smartphones, the internet, but also in not being able to have friends in fear she will expose her family’s secret, shine through in her character. Her desire to live a normal life creates tension, but it is Poppy’s relationship with her math teacher and a fellow student, Harrison, that causes her to push boundaries and finally experience life.

YA books can annoy me, but this one was a pleasure to read. It helped thatPoppy is a mature and intelligent narrator. The pacing is fast, and the tension and suspense of whether or not Poppy and her family will be caught kept me riveted. The drama behind her parents' reasons for living off the grid was surprising and fascinating. My only critique was that the ending was a bit rushed.

Overall, this book has it all: mystery, tension, suspense, and romance. I loved Marit Weisenberg's writing style, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
April 15, 2022
jeff zentner gave the blurb for this book and thats honestly all i needed to know before picking it up.

and honestly, this was totally a 5 star read until the very last chapter happened. one of the worst endings ive read in a very long time. but the rest of the story is so so so good. ugh. i loved it. i just wish i would erase that last chapter from my brain.

because this is such a unique coming-of-age story. there is such a captivating dichotomy between poppy fighting for the person she knows she is while her entire familys history is a secretive mystery. i was dying to find out what her family was running from, nearly to the point of being annoying because the reader is kept in the dark for soooo long, but i think that helps the reader empathise with what poppy is going through. its quite effective.

so for 390 out of 400 pages of this book to be near perfection, im pretty dang impressed with this.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,308 reviews44k followers
July 22, 2022
I have to thank to the publishers from putting Marit Weisenberg on my radar! I already added Insomniacs on my swollen-about to burst any second tbr!

Rules are clear and simple for Winslow family( even though this is not their real family name) 
1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

They are runaways for 17 years, living under radar, changing states at each 4 months, homeschooling kids, working at pay under the table jobs, suffering from poverty. But at least they have each other to hold on and their special poker nights. Now they finally moved to San Francisco, living in an old, vintage house, planning to stay longer. But when 17 years old Poppy finally demands answers about their past, she puts her family in very dangerous path without having any knowledge!

This book is such a thrilling ride! Especially the first quarter about family’s running away from authorities kept on my toes. I lost my poor nails, my favorite cushion( there are disgusting bite marks on it) my right arm ( good news; my teeth are stronger than my German shepherd’s ) but it’s worth it! Then at the second quarter book’s genre completely changed into YA realistic romance when Harrison Addison appeared on the chapter! ( rich, charming, troubled boy who caught the attention of out sweet, loyal, innocent, clueless, shy heroine Poppy)

The combination of mystery thriller and YA romance perfectly worked fine for me: it was gripping wild ride to read how Poppy learns about the secret by applying for DNA test and how her under radar relationship with famous politician’s son Harry will bloom.

I couldn’t turn pages any faster to find out how the story conclude! It was fast paced, heart throbbing with well crafted characterization! Of course Dan: ex navy, the father of Poppy is my favorite character and after learning his back story, I truly respected him more!

Throughout my read, I got a little agitated with Poppy: why she was so obedient? why didn’t she want to learn the ugly truth before? But the characters are realistically developed and when I read about Poppy’s 8 years old sister Emma, I quickly understand why Poppy chose to enjoy bliss of ignorance! When Emma is the rebellious one who learns the importance of selfishness at the age 8, Poppy was created as a character who putted the others first because she was too afraid of losing everything she had! She loved her unique family more than herself!

The big revelation was truly jaw dropping and overall I liked smart, whirlwind drama, mystery, teen love so much. Only thing I didn’t love is abrupt ending which held me give five stars to this great thriller!

I don’t want to give too much away but I need more answers: actually I have pages of questions and I keep wishing the author gave us a sequel because there are so many unfinished business left behind and I’m dying to know what will happen next! I hope that sequel comes or I have to write fan emails to author for kindly requesting it!

Anyways, I highly recommend this mind-bender, stomach-churner, jaw-dropper, Ozark meets Bonnie & Clyde journey! At some parts Dan reminded me of Ozark’s cool and determined Marty who does what it takes to save his family!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Rincey.
818 reviews4,583 followers
December 31, 2022
This was one of my most anticipated book and it still exceeded my expectations. This was such a good contemporary coming of age story with a slight mystery tied in to keep you hooked. Poppy was such a fantastic character to read and watching her figure out who she is and who her family is was just so fantastic.

Watch my full review of this book: https://youtu.be/d4qvUt-0h4w
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,549 followers
February 23, 2022
This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg is a young adult coming of age with a side of mystery. The main character in the story is a teenager with a quest to find the truth after growing up in an abnormal situation.

Poppy has grown up with parents that love her but also with parents that lie to her every day. Poppy’s life has been on that is always on the move and Poppy learned at a young age that her parents are afraid of the law.

Now that Poppy is almost eighteen she can’t help but wonder what it is that keep their family picking up and running never getting close to anyone or settling anywhere. On a whim after the latest move Poppy submits a DNA test looking for answers as she tries to figure out what the future holds for her.

This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg was a story that I couldn’t help but become engaged in when I picked this one up to read. The idea that not only the main character but her little sister are living this anonymous life without a stable foundation was intriguing. I enjoyed that there was an air of mystery to the family and why they ran and also watching Poppy grow as she struggled with who she was and who she would be. This was the first I had read by Marit Weisenberg but I would certainly want to read more in the future.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Kristine .
693 reviews166 followers
February 24, 2022
This was a fast page turner for me. It’s a crazy Bonnie and Clyde on the run story, but it gets kind of complicated when they have 2 daughters going for the ride. Poppie, the narrator is about to turn 18, and has always lived her life moving from one place to the other. She has no idea what her parents did. Poppie, doesn’t even know their real names and hers is always changing, too. She is not allowed to use a cell phone or have a computer as that would make it easy to track the family down. She also can never make friends and that is the hardest part. She also starts to wonder about her future, is this always going to be her life, jumping in the car and racing to the next place or is there something and someone better for her waiting? So, this is a fast paced YA Thriller, but love that it ties the pull of being attached to your family.

I stayed up really late to finish this one. I just had to know how it would end up for Poppie and find out who she really was. As Poppie’s heart was racing, so was mine. When she was scared, so was I. Recommend this for all who enjoy getting into someone’s head about a world most would never have to encounter. You will become immersed with the drama of this family.

Thank you NetGalley, Marit Weisenberg, and FlatIron Books for giving me an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,204 reviews3,687 followers
February 6, 2022
I hope this book takes off because Marit Weisenberg writes fantastic, dramatic YA thrillers that I don't want to put down! This Golden State is about a teen girl named Poppy whose family is on the run. They change identities, she doesn't know her parents real names, and isn't allowed to ask about the past. Until the summer they end up in California and she takes a DNA test that will change everything....

I really loved this book. It builds tension as you (along with Poppy) want to know the truth. Poppy is brilliant but lonely and while she isn't supposed to connect too deeply with anyone, this might be the summer she falls in love for the first time. Her family is complicated. They love each other, but they've also hurt each other because of the way they live. This book does a great job showing that time in life where you are pulled between loving your family and wanting to be enmeshed with them, and the urge to create something for yourself. AND the messiness of how we can simultaneously love and hate the people closest to us.

Overall, a very well executed thriller that works hard to achieve believability in terms of what it would take to stay off the grid in the modern world. I found this to be a page turner and had a great time with it. I received an advance copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,071 reviews147 followers
March 10, 2022
Poppy Winslow's family has five rules:

1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

Poppy does not know her parents' real names, or why they have been on the run her entire life. She just knows something really bad would happen if they got caught. It means constantly changing schools, never making friends, and not getting a cell phone or even access to the Internet. When her parents take Poppy and her little sister to California, things seem different. The house they stay in has meaning to her family. She mails in a DNA test, not fully realizing the consequences of her actions. As Poppy grows close to a classmate, she also starts to uncover some truths about her parents. Combined with the results of her DNA test, everything unravels all the hard work her family has done to stay hidden all these years--and reveals some shocking truths about the past.

"If I could pinpoint the moment things changed, it was as simple as this: a high school library in Illinois, cozy, me working at a table with my science-fair group."

Oh this book was such a fun surprise! I could not put it down; it was mesmerizing. I found myself completely caught up in Poppy and her family's story. Who on earth were her parents? What did they do? Why would they force their children to go through such lengths to protect their identities? Why would their kids--especially Poppy, nearly eighteen--go along with it? The book is part mystery (unveiling all those answers) plus part character-driven coming of age tale as Poppy grows up, learning about herself. She's spent her entire life putting her family first, but is that really the best thing for her?

I loved learning more about her parents' backstory and also delving into Poppy's relationship with Harry, the boy she meets in math class and starts to fall for. The family dynamic in STATE is complicated and complex, but interwoven so delicately. Weisenberg also makes some timely and intriguing points about our digital footprint and how DNA can link people together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It's different, with fascinating family dynamics and a really riveting plot. 4.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Flatiron Books and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Smashbomb ~ Instagram
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,399 followers
Want to read
December 14, 2021
I have yet to come across a book labeled ‘YA Thriller’ that didn’t get me hyped up, and this one is no exception.

*Thanks to Flatiron Books for an advance review copy!
Profile Image for elhyza.
240 reviews299 followers
March 11, 2022
“It becomes the most natural thing in the world to step outside the circle and choose for ourselves.”

3.5☆ — this golden state being a modern-day bonnie & clyde but with kids is the absolute page turner that readers can expect! just truly hooks readers right in, as i could not put down this mystery thriller and read in one sitting. following poppy, at almost 18 has been using fake names her whole life and doesn't even know her parents' real names, it hurts to see the situation no kid should be put in and how she could never let anyone get close to her. as the family never stays in one place for more than a few months maximum definitely less if people come close to recognizing. immediately entering the story seeing the pattern of poppy's life once again being taken away from a town she was just getting used to and the toll it takes on her emotionally. their move to california is definitely one much different than their previous ones with being a location poppy has dreamed to go to and with how excited her mom is more than usual. we get to see our main take advanced math courses with a stanford professor and poppy is a character who hasn't been able to settle enough to see her potential, academically particularly and is highly intelligent in stem courses able to keep up with kids her age who took years of tutoring. but soon she meets a fellow classmate, harry that she finds herself instantly connected to him though not being able to open up completely as a family on the run yet they truly begin a whirlwind of a romance. the romantic subplot wasn't exactly my favorite i did enjoy harry's character a lot and what depth we see of him, but its more of a plot device to further poppy's search for her parents' true identities with him being her access to technology after both found each other mailing in ancestry.com dna tests. you truly feel the building tension and anxiety for poppy as the story furthers as she gets closer to the truth. with trying not to give anything away, weisenberg genuinely builds a great structure of a story with little easter eggs all throughout and weaving them all together how it connects back to the true story of poppy's parents. the only critique i have is that i agree with fellow reviews of its ending and wishing we got to see more of what comes after but i do understand that the book would have gone on for much longer if that were to happen. all in all, i think readers looking for a quick paced, mystery that keeps one at the edge of the seat will be satisfied with the rush that this golden state gives!

Thank you to Flatiron Books for providing an e-arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for laura morgan .
243 reviews50 followers
July 5, 2022
Every time I think I can't enjoy YA anymore a book like this comes along to prove me wrong. This is one of the better YA mysteries I've read. This follows Poppy, who has been raised by fugitive parents on the run for her entire life. Constantly moving at the drop of a hat, fake names and identities. She doesn't even know her own parents' real names. Poppy is tired of all the secrecy and decides to do one of those mail-in DNA tests. The results don't come back until the last half of the book, but in the meantime she develops a romance with Harry, the son of a high-profile politician.

I was expecting the big reveal to be more wild than what it was but I appreciate it being more realistic. I loved Poppy & Harry as the two characters we see the most of in here. I was completely wrapped up in the mystery and needing to know the truth right along with Poppy. Overall, this was just beautifully written and a compelling read.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
250 reviews13 followers
December 13, 2021
One sentence: This was incredible.

I really had no idea what to expect with this one. There is an air of mystery the entire novel, with the MC’s parents being on the run for a reason that is later revealed. You are beyond frustrated that this teenage girl does not get the opportunity to have a real life, angry at her parents for being so selfish, all the while asking - what is going on? What did they do?

It’s got you hanging on the edge of your seat wanting to know the answers, but all the while you’re rooting for this girl and wanting her to be independent, make her own decisions, and find love.

It was simply breathtaking.

That’s about all I can say for spoilers, but this is one that comes out in March, and you’re gonna want to read it.

🌺 VERDICT: idk y’all, my gut says 5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

🎶 SONG REC: “Let Go” - Frou Frou
Profile Image for Rachel007.
420 reviews47 followers
May 6, 2021
WOW. I could NOT put this one down.

Official blurb:

"Smart and intriguing, THIS GOLDEN STATE kept me guessing all the way through. What were Poppy's parents on the run from? Who were they? Who was she? Poppy's determination to find out had me turning the pages in desperation along with her."
1,094 reviews3 followers
July 26, 2021
From the first page I was hooked. Sometimes the thin line between family and freedom is more like a wide canyon.
Profile Image for Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee.
678 reviews164 followers
March 2, 2022
This is a YA thriller, with a contemporary romance feel. Quite a fun read. Poppy is about to turn 18, and her family has been on the run her whole life. No one can know who they are, or what is in their past, including Poppy. They often change their identities, and Poppy doesn't really know who they are. She is not supposed to build close relationships, or get very close to people, as they cannot destroy all the hard work they've done to keep their lives hidden. When they move to California, Poppy becomes close to a boy, and she wants to build a life of her own. She wants to know what her parents could be hiding. She sneaks taking a DNA test. When she gets the results, everything she's known changes.

This was an entertaining book, I wanted to know what Poppys parents were keeping hidden and would Poppy be able to build the relationship she wanted with this boy. I had guessed what the reveal was, but overall I still really enjoyed this one.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the gifted copy! All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for E.C..
Author 1 book80 followers
January 30, 2022
I really hate to say this, but this book has been one of my biggest letdowns of 2022 so far. I requested this book twice last year because the blurb intrigued me, so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered I had been approved. As a result, I read this book over the course of one day.

Did it meet my expectations? Not really.

The biggest thing that jarred me a bit was just how, feel-wise, this book is more of a contemporary romance than an actual thriller. I didn't feel the suspense at all, and to me, the romance scenes and the main character in her math class took up more time than spent actually following the mystery. And when the big reveal occurred, it wasn't that big of a reveal because I had already seen it coming, which, as you can imagine, kind of ruins the whole thriller twist ending in general. 😅

The main character also felt like the stereotypical teen girl that you read about in most contemporary romance novels. Throughout the whole story, I found her frustration with her family understandable, but not enough to really relate to her or see anything more to her personality than just her ... uh, interesting family situation.

And the whole message of the story was basically finding your own way, and doing what you want? It felt a bit anticlimatic to me, especially the end (if you've read it, you know). But I also have a pretty big issue with books like that (Amelia Unabridged is another that comes to mind) because it leaves so many threads hanging AND just leaving your problems behind for a great life on your own and not dealing with them is selfish, not to mention unhealthy.

Overall though, while the premise of this book is interesting, I don't think the stakes were upped high enough for it to be really anything much more than a contemporary romance. But hey - I've never written thriller, so what I do I know 😂

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,340 reviews227 followers
January 27, 2022
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THIS GOLDEN STATE by Merit Weisenberg in exchange for my honest review.***

Poppy’s family has been on the run her whole life, though from what crime she does not know. She only knows she wants to stop running. She knows she shouldn’t take a DNA test, that’s gotta be against the many rules she must follow to remain safe. Taking a summer class she encounters a boy with secrets and a caring teacher who sees more of a future for Poppy than she can imagine for herself.

Though unevenly paced, THIS GOLDEN STATE held my interest and “forced” me to read straight through to see what would happen next.

I couldn’t give THE GOLDEN STATE five stars because of the disconnect between Poppy’s adoration for her “wonderful” parents and the actual quality of their parenting. The dad was paranoid, controlling and narcissistic. His needs to keep his family together under the guise of that being in their best interest was selfish and damaging to the kids. The mom seemed more under his spell than a driving force in the family and try as I could, I disliked eight-year-old Emma.

My other criticism is the abrupt ending. THIS GOLDEN STATE would have benefited from an epilogue unless there is a second book upcoming. If that’s the case, sign me up. I’d love to read more of Poppy’s story and find out more about Harry.
Profile Image for Binxie.
586 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2021
I almost gave up on this and wish I had. It took too long to get exciting, actually never got all too exciting. And anyone remember Patty Hearst? What a rip off of that event - and not done very well at all.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,189 reviews1,020 followers
February 24, 2022
It's official, I'm going to read anything Marit Weisenberg writes. After loving 2020's The Insomniacs , I was beyond excited to start This Golden State (and thrilled to be invited to the blog tour, naturally). And I am happy to report, it delivered, which puts the author firmly on my auto-read list.

The premise obviously hooked me from the start. I mean, not only are Poppy and her family on the run (and have been for as long as she can remember), but Poppy hasn't the faintest idea why. Let's stop for a second and think that through. Can you even imagine? Your whole life is lies, you know it's lies, but you just have to keep being lied to, keep being pulled from your makeshift homes, quasi-friends, schools you finally got yourself sort-of settled in. It must have been so exhausting, so lonely for Poppy. And I think that is what makes her such a compelling character from the start. When we first meet her, she's literally being ripped away yet again. She's just started to feel a little at home in her new town, made some friends, has actual things to look forward to at school... then bam . She's yanked out of town yet again.

The family finally reaches their new destination, the titular Golden State, of course, and Poppy finds herself questioning her parents more than ever. And it makes total sense! As a reader, I found myself not only cheering on Poppy's questioning because I too wanted answers, but because I was so invested in her finally getting some answers too. Her fear and apprehension makes sense. She hasn't a clue how the world works, is barely technologically savvy, since her parents have kept her as sheltered as possible, for the reasons you can surmise.

This is, obviously, a coming of age story for Poppy, and a story of Poppy finding out who she is- both in the very literal sense, and in the figurative journey we all take. The story is certainly beautiful in that regard, as Poppy navigates growing up and figuring out who is she, both in the context of her family, and outside of them. But when you add in the other incredibly thought provoking bits, it becomes even more compelling. You can't help but question the morality of Poppy's parents, what the best choices for Poppy are, if there even are any good choices in the circumstances Poppy finds herself in. Plus, the mystery that Poppy begins to unfurl made me pretty much unable to stop turning the pages.

Bottom Line: Incredibly readable, with a very sympathetic and likable main character, I was obsessed with this book from the start.

You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight
Profile Image for Liralen.
2,845 reviews183 followers
March 15, 2022
This is well written—

And I enjoyed it—

And I'm just over here imagining what it could have been if it had featured a platonic friendship rather than a romance. The romance is fine: it's standard YA (they each have their dramas, but they also have insta-love, so everything works out), it's cute, etc. etc. But...as someone who's not head over heels for the romance seemingly inherent to contemporary YA books, I'm disappointed to see how much of Poppy's desire to leave the only life she knows is based on romance. There's a desire for a better education, sure, and for the little freedoms that 'normal' girls her age have...but although we see Poppy meet and connect with a handful of people, there's not even a hint of a solid platonic friendship in the cards for her here. And...maybe her romance will work out, sure. Maybe it won't. I just...wish her sudden throwing-caution-to-the-wind had less to do with a boy and more with an independent desire for something else.
Profile Image for Helen.
36 reviews
January 12, 2023
I really wanted to like it. 


After all, it sounded amazing. YA mystery thriller, running from your past, DNA test reveals secrets... But for me, it was just another romance novel with a little mystery to it.

First of all, Poppy. She's smart. She's also brilliant and genius. She's able to take part in a course with just her intelligence, while all the other students have had to pay for tutors since they were kids. While having that in mind, please notice that she also fell in love with Harry, even though she knew there was a high possibility of her leaving her current house. We don't really know why. I guess it's because romance is the main plot in this book and not anything else that was written in the description.


Second of all, the plot. I wanted to read a thriller, you know, with action and stuff. Instead, I've got romance, and there cannot be anything worse than romance when you do not want it. Still, it could've been a good book. I wanted action - so I read the whole book looking for it. Unfortunately, there was almost none. I came here for the DNA test and its results, which were supposed to "bring her crashing back to reality". In the prologue, we've got the scene of Poppy taking a DNA test. Cool, we're in the middle of the action. Soon Poppy will get her results and everything will come together. Then, the first chapter is labeled "one month ago", which was pretty disappointing, but fine, I could roll with that. However, guess when the forgotten test results came back to Poppy? When it was closer to the end of this book than to its beginning. Plus, between the short scenes of action, there was almost no plot. It was just going to this fantastic mathematics course and meeting Harry, and sometimes babysitting some children.


Overall, it's a big no for me. And I'm writing it with an aching heart because it seemed so good judging by its description. 
Profile Image for Margo.
38 reviews
January 22, 2022
I...have no words. This is one of the best books I have read in so long, to the point where I hated putting it down soooo FIVE HUGE STARS

update oh no this is gonna put me in a reading slump because nothing I read now will top this
Profile Image for Ady.
929 reviews41 followers
July 5, 2022
Poppy needs therapy.
Profile Image for Clare Bird.
516 reviews5 followers
February 24, 2022
Hey Marit, I'll give you 5 out of 5 birds for This Golden State! I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Marit gained my attention just with the book blurb and the story didn't disappoint. I feel like I've said this about every book I've read in 2022, it must be on trend, but this was another slow-burn novel. The story slowly unravels and keeps you wanting to find out why these girls can't have a normal life! They have no idea their parents real names, don't have any technology, and literally are on the run 24/7. I really liked the main character Poppy and the highlighting of her interest in a STEM field. It was refreshing. There is some definite teen angst but never did it feel over the top or sexualized for YA which I appreciate, I mean it's mentioned, but not the focus or depicted in depth. I loved the growth in poppy and was happy sad with the end. Overall, this book was a fun read. I gave me some Good Girls Guide to murder vibes. I'd put it on my TBR list, it drops March 1, 2022.
Profile Image for Wolfie (wolfgang.reads).
163 reviews3 followers
February 3, 2022
I don't know how vast the YA thriller-romance genre is, but this surely has to be one of the best out there.

Poppy was born on the run. She doesn't know why she and her family are fugitives, who they're hiding from, or if this will ever end, but after eighteen years of living like this, she's learned to always be on her guard and not to put down roots wherever they temporarily settle. A sudden move to California complicates family dynamics, but it doesn't cause as much damage as Poppy's impulsive decision to mail in a home DNA test and, against her family's list of unspoken rules, be emotionally vulnerable with an equally mysterious boy from her summer math class.

I was hooked from the first page. Maybe it's because I got a heavy wave of nostalgia from reading gritty YA novels back when I was still in their target age demographic, but I think it's mostly because the premise is so fascinating and so, so well done. I could imagine every scene so vividly, the characters are well-rounded and likeable, particularly the whip-smart heroine, the conflict is pretty decent. ​It hits the ground running and although there were maybe a few scenes that weren't essential, they were over quickly and the pacing hardly suffered.

It's a near perfect 5 star read and I'm still flitting between giving this a 4.5 and a 5. It's the writing. It's a bit clunky and awkward at times but it's a nitpicky personal preference, especially considering the genre is forgiving with "tell, don't show" storytelling. I'd give it a 5 star read for the world building and perfect ending alone.

It's a gripping thriller that's leagues above quite a few adult thrillers I've read. There's a lot of food for thought here - importance of family, childhood and nostalgia, autonomy and identity, etc. - and it'll linger in your mind long after you've finished.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pub date: March 1, 2022

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5, so close to a 5 / 5
Profile Image for The Reading Raccoon.
836 reviews107 followers
April 28, 2023
This Golden State is a young adult contemporary novel about a teenage girl living on the run with her secretive parents.

Poppy is almost eighteen years old and in the summer before her senior year when her parents suddenly pack up their most essential items and move again. Along with her younger sister they move frequently and never use the same names twice. Poppy has never had a friend, appeared in a photograph or fallen in love. And she has never known why their existence is secret or what her parents did.

But after almost twenty years of moving from place to place her parents finally move them to a state she’s been waiting to see her whole life, California. Poppy is given more freedom in their new town including attending a summer math class and babysitting for one of the wealthy local moms. But a sudden impulsive act to send off a DNA ancestry kit plus a secret romance with the son of a billionaire and a high profile politician are making Poppy question everything about who she really is and where she belongs.

This Golden State is the glimpse into what it would look like if a family tried to live completely undetected in a world of smart phones, social media and genetic testing. It’s hard not to relate to Poppy who is legally an adult and falling in love for the first time but expected to continue giving up her life and future due to her parent’s past decisions. This novel was the perfect blend of character and plot driven story and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I recommend This Golden State for readers that enjoy coming of age and young adult novels about falling in love, finding your own path and letting go.

4.5 stars (rounded to 5)
Profile Image for Shannon.
4,542 reviews226 followers
June 6, 2022
A really great YA romantic mystery story featuring a family always on the run and their teenage daughter, Poppy, who yearns for the truth and a place to call home. When her family returns to California for the first time in years, Poppy begs her parents to let her enroll in a summer math class. There she meets and befriends Harry, striking up a sweet romance that makes her want to stay all the more. In a moment of defiance Poppy takes a DNA test, setting off a chain reaction that blows up her family's secrets. Excellent on audio narrated by Brittany Pressley, this was unputdownable and highly bingeable. Recommended for fans of books like You have a match by Emma Lord.
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