Jessie had said they should go at midnight. 'It’s the gods’ time,' she said, narrowing her eyes dramatically. 'Anything could happen.’
It’s the 1980s, and in their small coastal town, Ali and her best friend, Jessie, are on the cusp. With ‘The Golden Book’, a journal of incantation and risk taking as their record, they begin to chafe at the restrictions put on them by teachers, parents, each other. Then Jessie suffers a devastating accident, and both their lives are forever changed.
When Ali is an adult, with a young daughter herself, the news of Jessie’s death brings back the intensity of that summer, forcing her to reckon with her own role in what happened to Jessie so many years ago.
As this stunning debut moves back and forth in time, and Ali’s secrets are forced into the light, Kate Ryan asks profound questions about responsibility and blame, and, ultimately, about love.
‘An exquisite study of the liminal space between words and acts, and the necessary redrafting of our life stories. This is a golden book.’
Myfanwy Jones, author of Leap
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‘A gorgeous evocation of the wildness of youth, and of what it takes to find love after disaster. Kate Ryan writes from the heart. Earthy, lovely, and profound. A beautiful, resonant book.’
Peggy Frew, author of Islands
‘Kate Ryan has constructed a superb literary novel, but one that is also written in an absorbing, immersive prose. The storytelling is direct and often visceral, concerned with telling the truth of the human condition … An assured debut from a writer who has honed her craft and written something genuine and true.’
Chris Saliba, North Melbourne Books
‘The Golden Book is well paced and well plotted.’
Annie Condon, Readings
‘[The Golden Book] is a tightly woven and compelling story about the incorruptibility of childhood friendships, the bitterness of teenage rivalry and the impact of childhood trauma as it unfurls over time … Ryan reveals Ali's past with tantalising slowness, expertly interspersing Ali's adult life with visceral memories from her childhood … The Golden Book is the rare novel you will want to read in one session and not put down.’
Raphaelle Race, The Big Issue
‘[The Golden Book] is strongly grounded in disquieting ideas about the relationship between writing and truth.’
Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Sydney Morning Herald