Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

By: Jessi Kirby
Published By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Series: None
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: TLA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).

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.

So much for normal.

Last year I read Jessi Kirby's novel In Honor. In Honor was one of my favorite books of 2012, so I was extremely excited for Golden, and Golden is definitely one of my favorite books of 2013. Jessi Kirby is a masterful writer, with books that make you feel the entire range of emotions within a single story.

Parker Frost is a model student and daughter, doing exactly what is expected of her, following her mother's plan for her to get into Stamford and go to medical school. But as her senior year goes by, Parker starts to think that perhaps she is missing out on something after all, just like her best friend Kat has said. Kat challenges Parker to do one thing, to take one risk, and Parker has an opportunity she never expected. As an English TA, she has to mail journals from ten years ago back to their authors. However, when one of those journals is from Julianna Farnetti - a girl who died in a horrific car crash - Parker can't help but read it. She never expected to find the story that she does within the pages. As Julianna's story unfolds, Parker realizes that there are always things that you don't know about others, and that she has to find the plan for her life that will make her happy. But what is her path?

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" This question, a quote from a poem posed by Parker's English teacher, resonates throughout the book. As the story unfolds, Parker is constantly confronted with this question, almost like a challenge - from her mother, who expects a certain answer, from her best friend Kat, who wants Parker to take a chance, from the pages of Julianna's diary, as Julianna begins to find her own path in life, and finally from herself, and she realizes that she doesn't have to have her life set in stone already. Parker is such a relatable character. Throughout the book I felt like I was reading not only about my high school self but also the person that I am now. Golden made me think in a way that few books do. I loved everything about this story, from the Frost quotes and references at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the story to the diary entries from Julianna. Orion is definitely swoon-worthy, and Trevor adds some humor to an otherwise deep and poignant story.

What makes Golden so moving isn't just the story itself, but how it is written. Jessi Kirby writes scenes and interactions that are beautiful, heartbreaking, sweet, touching, and just perfect. Between her way with words and the descriptions she gives, she manages to evoke all of the feelings. Once again she's written a book that will make you think, make you want more, make you cry, but in the end make you smile. This book will be one that I recommend to everyone.

Golden is a story that will definitely stick with me for a long time and has officially made Jessi Kirby an autobuy author for me. I can't wait to see what she writes next!


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