Golden Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Golden Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Captivating Hollywood fairy tale will enchant fantasy fans.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Golden Girl is set in Hollywood during the 1930s, and it presents a realistic portrait of the place (with the addition of some supernatural elements, of course). Historical figures, such as Paul Robeson, Marion Davies, and William Randolph Hearst, appear in the story. Appendices provide reading/listening/watching lists of spirituals, pop tunes, and movies from the era.

Positive Messages

The denizens of Faerie live to manipulate one another and any human unlucky enough to cross their path. Golden Girl emphasizes that all beings deserve the freedom to choose their own destiny, and that people are not to be toyed with and tricked into doing things against their best interests.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Callie LeRoux may be a princess of Faerie and know how to wield magical powers, but she constantly struggles not to manipulate her friends and acquaintances. She is brave, compassionate, and resourceful, determined to free her parents from the spell in which they are trapped. When given the opportunity to hurt those who have harmed her, she always seeks a gentler path.

Violence

There is some violence in Golden Girl, but most often it involves the threat of physical harm rather than actual bloodshed. Callie and Jack battle a troll and a crocodile-like monster early in the book. Another antagonist attempts to drown them in a swimming pool. There's a magical shootout in which a major character dies.

Sex

Callie's interest in her older friend Jack becomes slightly more romantic over the course of the book, and she feels downright jealous when she believes he is attracted to young film superstar Ivy Bright. But, so far, Callie and Jack's relationship does not extend much beyond longing looks and a few supportive hugs.

Language

The language in Golden Girl is very mild, with only a few instances of "damn," "hell," and "bastard." In keeping with the book's period setting, there a couple of racist references to African-American characters, using "spook" and the "N" word.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Golden Girl, the sequel to Dust Girl, is an engaging historical fantasy that uses Depression-era Hollywood as a well-realized setting for a tale of Faerie magic. There's  some violence -- including an attempted drowning and a climactic fatal shootout --  but the threat of physical violence is more prevalent than actual bloodshed. Strong language is limited to a few instances of "damn," "hell," and "bastard," along with a couple of historically accurate racist references to African-Americans ("spook," the "N" word). 

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What's the story?

Having left the Dustbowl behind her, half-faerie/half-human Callie LeRoux has arrived in Depression-era Hollywood with her friend Jack. She's looking for a way to rescue her parents, who are being held captive in the Faerie realm. When Callie ventures onto the movie studio back lot in search of employment, she stumbles upon the attempted kidnapping of child star Ivy Bright. Before she knows what's happening, Callie is involved in a complicated plot that involves some of the most powerful figures in Tinseltown, actor Paul Robeson, and her devious and dangerous uncle, who tempts her with hints about her enchanted heritage.

Is it any good?

GOLDEN GIRL builds upon Dust Girl's excellent start, avoiding the second-book slump by moving the action to Hollywood and raising the stakes. The plot cleverly mixes Celtic folklore with the history of Depression-era California, and author Sarah Zettel works hard to keep the magic-filled plot infused with accurate historical detail and psychological realism. The American Fairy Trilogy is shaping up as one of the best fantasy series for teen readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hollywood and why it's sometimes described as "magical." How to do movies present a heightened, more fantastic picture of reality?

  • How do film actors maintain perspective on their real lives vs. how they appear onscreen? Are some more successful than others? What are the dangers of confusing what happens on- and offscreen?

  • What are some of the challenges of being of mixed heritage? How would those challenges been different in America in the 1930s?

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