Friday, May 10, 2013

Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby


Pages: 288
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 14, 2013
Source: Goodreads First Reads
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Parker Frost has always played by the rules for the past seventeen years. She has never gone off course, not even once, and has always listened to her mother who wants her to attend Stanford on scholarship.  Parker is at the end of her high school experience and she realizes that she hasn't taken any chances or done anything spontaneous.  Parker is helping her high school English teacher out with a project in which seniors write in journals and then the teacher mails them to the students ten years later.  Parker comes across the journal of Julianna Farnetti, who has died ten years ago in a horrible car accident along with her boyfriend.  Parker knows she shouldn't be reading Julianna's journal, but she can't help it. She is completely engrossed in Julianna's thoughts.  It appears that Julianna wasn't one-hundred percent in love with her longtime boyfriend and possesses a few secrets; in fact, she developed feelings for someone else before her untimely death.  The more Parker reads Julianna's journal, the more she tries to piece together clues about Julianna's accident and the secrets of her life.  While on Julianna's journey, Parker learns more abut herself and life than she initially expected.  Jessi Kirby's Golden is a brilliant and smart coming of age tale that reminds us all to take the "road less traveled" in life.

I could instantly connect with Parker. She is such a hard worker, a good student, and a loyal friend.  Her mother is sort of horrific and a complete helicopter parent; she never lets Parker really live or spread her wings, which is outrageous as she is almost eighteen years old!  Because of her mother's smothering, Parker starts to question whether she has really "lived" and thanks to her outgoing best friend, Kat, and her longtime crush, they both challenge her to step out of her comfort zone.  In that case, it's for Parker to find out what happened to Julianna.  You see, Parker would have NEVER read a private journal before, but something reached out and grabbed her.  In turn, Parker starts to question whether or not Julianna is actually dead and her quest for answers is one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Golden is so refreshing, because it isn't about a love triangle, it isn't about a boy, or anything else that could be viewed as trivial. It's about being proactive, it's about following your heart, taking chances, and actually living your life.  Yes, there's some romance and there's a mystery, but it's so much more than that.  It's about Parker's journey of self-discovery and Kirby captured what it's truly like to be a senior at the crossroads of life.

This leads me to Robert Frost. There are excerpts of various Robert Frost poems to start each chapter in Golden and being a huge Frost fan and English teacher, I relished this.  It worked so very well with the story and it just added to the fact that Golden is such a smart read and not your average contemporary. It really makes you think and I believe many young adults can connect with Parker.

I also made a few personal connections to Golden.  I love that Parker's English teacher played such a prominent and thought provoking role--meaning not the usual teacher in young adult literature who drones on in the background and says thinks like, "Turn your textbook to page 46."  The English teacher started off class with an interesting quote and had the students write responses, much like Writer's Notebook in my school district. I loved the Mary Oliver quote, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" and the Robert Frost quote at the end of the novel. *Swoon* I wish I could go back in time and read Golden as a senior in high school. I think it would have really impacted me.

Needless to say, Golden is on my "special" bookshelf dedicated to my favorite reads.  If you are looking for an intelligent read that focuses on self-discovery, but has also has a mystery, some romance and a dash of Robert Frost, pick up Golden this summer.

10 comments:

  1. I've seen nothing but good reviews of this book and I can't wait to read it! And I love the Robert Frost angle

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    1. Me too. I am a huge Frost fan! Thanks for visiting, Christa!

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  2. When I first heard about this book (before reading anything about it) I actually thought it was like a lot of other contemporary books out there, but the more I heard about it I had to get a copy. This sounds like such an inspirational read and definitely a beautiful summer read!

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    1. I highly recommend it. I hope you get around to reading it soon and enjoy it. Can't wait to hear your thoughts. It was definitely a nice break from the usual contemporary that focuses on boys. Thanks for dropping by, Andrea!

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  3. I've heard really good things about Golden, but I just can't decide if it is something I'm interested in. I read In Honor by Kirby, and I wasn't a really fan of that. I'm all indecisive about this book.

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    1. I haven't read In Honor, but I read Moonglass and really enjoyed it. I actually liked Golden better though. I hope you decide to read it! Thanks for visiting, Quinn!

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  4. Great review, Christina! I'm happy we were in such complete agreement on this one. I wish this book had been around when I was in high school, too. I loved that there was no triangle and that even though hint of romance was there (and swoon-worthy romance, too) it never once took over the story. It's so rare for YA to focus on a "real girl's" character arc. Thanks for stopping by my review yesterday!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

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    1. Thanks, Natalie! I completely agree. It was a nice break from the usual. Thanks for visiting, Natalie!

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  5. Great review, Christina! This is one I might actually have passed over if not for your review, but now I'll definitely try to check it out. I haven't read the author before even though I keep meaning to!

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    1. Thanks, Leanna! I think you would really like Jessi Kirby! You should definitely check out Golden as well as Moonglass. Thanks for visiting!

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