The Golden Road

The Golden Road

Notes On My Gentrification

An extraordinary young writer’s search for authenticity among the various communities of identity-black, Latino, techno-utopian, Ivy League, activist-competing for her allegiance, each with its distinct allures and perils.

California saved Caille Millner’s parents, or at least saved them from lives of poverty and oppression as black Americans growing up in racially benighted backwaters. It provided them with a free education and opportunities for advancement into the solid middle class and even beyond. But it did its damage too, and to the young Caille Millner as well, growing up in a Latino neighborhood in San Jose, relocating to more affluent but quietly hostile white-bread Silicon Valley suburbs being transformed out of all recognition by boom times, and then fleeing to a succession of utopian communities that in the end proved to be no less messy than the places she left behind.

The Golden Road is Caille Millner’s frankly wonderful memoir of coming of age in a world in which the need for a stable identity and the need to embrace radical change all too often collide, with consequences at times hilarious and at times devastating. Caille Millner is equally familiar with the high-stress world of teenage strivers’ gaming the system, obsessed with college choice, and the world — nearby geographically but impossibly far away by any other measure — of kids trapped in an entrenched underclass who don’t have the first idea what that game even is or how one gets on the playing field. Throughout The Golden Road, Millner navigates from one world to the other with breathtaking ease, always the outsider but always genuinely struggling for empathy and connection. The result is a book that tours thelandscapes of possibility carved by race, class, and culture for young Americans, and reckons with the prevailing fantasies and realities of internal immigration and gentrification, through the prism of her own experiences, with electrifying freshness and lucidity.

This is that rare thing, a memoir that transcends its author’s personal experiences to say something important and new about the broader culture without losing traction with the human story that gives it its astonishing power.

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Reviews in the press

  • Whether about family, friends, or acquaintances, these stories stand alone, not simply as chapters of her story. In quietly mesmerizing prose informed throughout by an attitude of wry objectivity, Millner makes her life thus far compelling reading and an outstanding addition to a crowded field.

    Library Journal
  • Doing what matters may now be Millner’s life, but that she shares her struggle with readers, so truthfully and with purpose, marks her as a writer not only of grace but of conviction. The Golden Road is a provocative memoir distinguished by its refusal to compromise.

    Barnes & Noble Editors, on making The Golden Road: Notes on My Gentrification one of their spring picks for the Discover Great New Writers program
  • A sharp-minded, elegantly written memoir.

    San Francisco Chronicle
  • We’re allowed glimpses of an idealistic, delicately calibrated young woman desperate to grow up, fall in love and change the world. Such clear-eyed, breezy recollections, delivered with a light touch, win us over.

    The New York Times
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