The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling

The Golden State

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 “processing error”―Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by...

Details The Golden State

TitleThe Golden State
Release DateSep 4th, 2018
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Reviews The Golden State

  • Elyse Walters
    Library overdrive byAmanda DolanThis novel might have been good...Parts were engaging...But MOSTLY...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...ENOUGH ALREADY... a reader CAN’T ...
  • Michael
    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 fro...
  • Tyler Goodson
    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...
  • Bailey
    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 concerne...
  • Janet
    Wonderful debut. My only criticism (and I've seen this from others) is no 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 wan...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    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...
  • Diane Yannick
    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 ...
  • Michelle
    3.5 starsDaphne 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. W...
  • Laura
    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 know...
  • David
    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 ...
  • Jan
    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 th...
  • 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'...
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    via my blog:“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 ampl...
  • Autumn
    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 count...
  • Colleen
    My thoughts on this brilliant, challenging, innovative novel are not yet fully formed but will eventually be impossible to contain in a space as small as this text box. For now, I'll say that this work is a high-water mark in the canon of motherhood books. And yet, to reduce it to a "motherhood book" does a great disservice to it, to Kiesling's skill as a writer, and to the people who cringe at the thought of reading something described that way,...
  • Lisa
    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.
  • Judy
    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...
  • 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, a...
  • Erin Glover
    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...
  • Alison Hardtmann
    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, ...
  • 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 ...
  • Sunita
    3.5 stars.Stylistically this is excellent. The close focus on the day-to-day childcare of a toddler, with all the pleasure and frustration and mind-numbing boredom that it entails, made me flash back to days when I was doing that kind of labor. Reading the book doesn't just recall those days, though, it makes you relive them through the endless descriptions of a mundanity that can occasionally become something magical and profound (before relapsi...
  • Bob Lopez
    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.
  • Mattia Ravasi
    Video reviewSplendidly crafted portrait of a stressed mind going through a breakdown. Terrible advertisement for the actual Golden State.
  • Saya
    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.
  • Matthew
    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.
  • Alexandra Sweet
    This is the first book where I've taken photos of the pages because Lydia Kiesling's writing so perfectly captures the experience of parenting (so loving, so tedious, so constant) that I have returned to the images on my phone to laugh or sigh or cry.
  • Trixie Fontaine
    Love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love. That's all I want to say right now.