Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Golden

By Jessi Kirby
Published: May 14, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

My review:

Parker is a Rory Gilmore kind of girl. She is very focused on her goal of winning a scholarship to attend Stanford and become a doctor. Her education is important to her and that is commendable. However Parker slowly starts to realize that she hasn't exactly lived the full high school experience and she's missed out on some things. 

Parker's life is complicated by her parents' messy divorce and her mom's views of her dad as lazy. He is a poet who suffered from writer's block and he is now a respected university professor but Parker's mother continues to disparage him so Parker tries not to be like him. She secretly enjoys poetry and writing but her mother would never approve.

Things change for Parker when she is helping a teacher with his annual project. Mr. Kinney asks his senior class each May to ponder their future and to keep a journal about their answers to this line from a poem by Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?".  Parker starts to think about her own life and future and when she finds Julianna Farnetti's journal, she decides to read it. 

I thought Parker was easy to relate to as a character and so was Kat. Their friendship is close but it becomes a little strained because Parker is supposed to be heading to Stanford and Kat won't be able to follow. Kat is going to stay back in their hometown and that parting looms over them and affects their friendship. I liked seeing how loyal Kat was to Parker and how she encouraged Parker to live her life to the fullest. It was good to see their friendship grow a little too. 

The idea of a teen going against her parents' wishes to be true to herself isn't something new to YA fiction but at least in this version, Parker's mom is not cast as a villain but someone who is dealing with her own issues. I thought the resolution of their conflict was handled realistically with hope for a closer and more understanding relationship in the future.

Golden took me back to my own senior year and all the questions I had about what I wanted for my life. I think Jessi Kirby perfectly captured those emotions and the confusion that teens face as they are preparing to enter adulthood. I loved the writing style of the book and how important poetry and artistic expression were to the story. The poetry of Robert Frost and the quote by Mary Oliver are perfect for the themes of the book. Overall I thought this was a really good book that portrayed what it is like to be at the crossroads between childhood and adulthood and I think teens will be able to relate to Parker's experiences. Fans of Sarah Dessen will definitely want to give Golden a try.

Note: I received an e-ARC for review purposes courtesy of Edelweiss and the publisher


  1. I'm so glad you liked this one. I really enjoyed it and I loved how the focus wasn't on love or boys, but rather on Parker's journey. It was like a breath of fresh air. I love how you say Parker is a Rory Gilmore kind of girl--you are SOO right! Great review, Christina!

  2. After mixed experiences with both of Kirby's previous books, I was thinking about passing on this one but then you compared it to Sarah Dessen and that last line clinches the deal: I must give this a try!

  3. I loved this book. It's a great example of YA contemporary done right. I enjoyed the emphasis on poetry and appreciated that her mother wasn't a "villain" mom. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

  4. It sounds like this book has a great coming-of-age vibe. I loved Kirby's MOONGLASS, so I'll definitely check this one out.

    Fabulous review!

  5. Wonderful review! This sounds like a very interesting book, and the Robert Frost connection intrigues me. Sigh, another book goes on my wish list.

  6. Great review! very in-depth. Another book for me to add to my never ending list ( haha).


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