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Review: Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

Featured Image of Golden Girl for book review

Editorial note: I received a copy of Golden Girl in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand is an impactful story about one woman’s final summer.

Elin Hilderbrand is known as the ‘queen of beach reads.’ And she’s written so many books! But I’ve actually just gotten into her novels last year. It’s one of those where I see her books everywhere but for some reason I continued to pass them up for others.

But then I decided to check out last year’s 28 Summers and I’m glad I did! While I had some issues with story direction, I loved the Nantucket setting and Elin’s breezy writing style.

I then checked out Troubles in Paradise after receiving the ARC – not realizing that it was the third book in a series. I liked it enough but again it’s hard to really get into the characters when you’re meeting them in the final book of a series (I had thought about reading the first two but honestly, my TBR is so huge that I just didn’t have the time).

And now, I just finished her latest novel, Golden Girl. I loved it. This is the book that made me finally understand why she’s such a huge success. Again, not that I didn’t like the other two but Golden Girl is fantastic. It’s much deeper than just your typical ‘beach read.’

What’s The Story About

In her latest book set in Nantucket, we follow Vivian a bestseller author and mother of three (she shares many similarities with the author, Elin). Life isn’t perfect but it’s going pretty darn well—until she is tragically killed in a car accident. But her story does not end there. We follow Vivi into the vague ‘great beyond’ where she meets Martha, the person assigned to Vivian to help her transition to the afterlife. Martha tells Vivi that she gets one last summer to observe her loved ones and even gets three “nudges” that will change the outcomes of events on earth.

From there, we get to know Vivi’s family who is both grieving for their loss but also trying to navigate all their other problems. And Vivi is watching every step of the way—for one more summer, that is.

Grief and Loss

In many ways, this is quite the heavy story. From Vivi’s tragic passing to each of her adult children dealing with significant issues of their own. While there are some light moments and great details of life in Nantucket, there is quite a bit of time focused on serious topics. I also appreciate when stories in this genre (women’s fiction) feature a bit more realistic elements (I say this with a novel that does include nudges, but hey, maybe it does exist!).

If you’ve ever been through a sudden loss, it’s not something you ever get over. You just don’t. What happens is you learn to live with grief. And it’s not an easy thing to do.

I thought Elin did a good job of showcasing the grief from all the characters, including Vivi when she realizes her time on earth is done. It’s sad and will make you want to hug your loved ones a little more closer after you read it.

Secrets

Even though I’m new to her stories, it does seem that every Elin book features some type of secret! And there are a ton in this story. I keep these spoiler-free so I won’t go into too much detail but I thought they were all interesting and engaging. Especially Vivi’s. I didn’t know where that secret was going and it took an unexpected turn.

Each of her children are also struggling with secrets of their own that will eventually come to light.

Verdict

I really enjoyed Golden Girl! I thought this was a well done novel that tackles loss, secrets and family. It really makes you think. And again, will encourage you to take a visit to Nantucket. I highly recommend this one.

For book clubs, check out my questions here.