#BookReview: California Golden by Melanie Benjamin

Moving Coming Of Age For Two Sisters During Surfing’s Golden Years. Another dive into the 1960s, with stops in the 1950s and 1980s as well, this is one of those books that takes that period and adds a flavor not always seen as readily. Yes, even when we eventually go to Vietnam with a couple of characters here, the book manages to show-without-showing the horrors there while focusing on its own spin on the story and era – in this case, how to move on from insta-fame and transition back to “normal” life while still in love with the surf. There is a lot going on in this book, as there was in the era, and the book manages to treat all of it in the same faded golden tones of the current (release day) cover. Note that if you have personal problems with reading about any of the common problems of the era – racism, cults, abuse, the Vietnam war, neglect, unhealthy doses of narcissism, etc… eh, maybe this book isn’t for you. But for the clean/ sweet romance crowd (and yes, this book meets every qualification I’m aware of for that genre), know that there isn’t much if any sex shown “on screen”, and even the worst of the domestic violence is actually off-screen. Overall a fairly realistic while still clearly fictional take on the era, and one fans of surfing’s Golden Age on the untamed shores of Southern California in the early 1960s and Hawaii in the mid 1950s will absolutely love. Very much recommended.

This review of California Golden by Melanie Benjamin was originally written on August 8, 2023.