I received this book for free from the Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Golden by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-05-04
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: the Publisher via Edelweiss
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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.
This is my first Jessi Kirby book but I’ve already bought one of her others because if it is anything like Golden, then I will definitely love it. In Golden, Kirby gives us romance, mystery, and adventure all in one book and it was perfect.
In a year where YA contemporaries seem to be coming from everywhere, Golden is definitely one that stands out. Not only does the book have a gorgeous cover, but the content feels unique as well. We meet two sets of teens, the first group is MC Parker and her friends Kat and Trevor, and the second group is Julianna, her boyfriend Shane, and a mystery boy. Julianna and Shane live in the past and their story is told through Julianna’s senior class journal that Parker comes across close to her own graduation date. As Parker reads the journal, she discovers secrets about Julianna and Shane that no one else knows. But there is more to their story. And Parker is determined to find the whole truth. For her one crazy adventure before high school is over, she takes Kat and Trevor with her to learn what really happened when Julianna and Shane disappeared. Along the way, she also learns about herself, her relationships, and that some things are more important than other people’s expectations.
The first thing I really loved about this book were the characters. Parker is a goodie goodie. But she isn’t annoying about it. She wasn’t naive or too innocent or following rules blindly; she did what she did because she wanted to make her mother happy and do well in school. I’ve seen too many YA characters who are “good” but are way over the top annoying about it. Not the case here. I also liked Kat and Trevor. They were a little more of your typical YA characters (outgoing, school-skipping best friend, cute, popular “playboy” crush), but I still really liked them. I also enjoyed the banter between Parker and Trevor in the beginning and the way Parker reacts to his attention felt completely authentic to a teenage girl with a crush.
The second thing I loved about this book was Julianna’s journal and the mystery it presented. When in school, Julianna and Shane were the perfect popular couple. But as we learn through Julianna’s journal, things aren’t always as they seem. There is a lot that is unknown about the day Julianna and Shane went driving after a party and ended up in the river and the entries leading up to that night bring up some interesting questions. Parker wants to find out what happened for many reasons but mostly because she needs the push to really start her own life. At the time in their lives when Julianna’s and Shane’s were ending, Parker needs the courage to finally start her own. And their story will help her, if she can only figure it out. The adventure she sets out on helps her learn about herself just as much as she learns about Julianna. And I loved that.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Kirby’s writing is beautiful and engaging. I really didn’t want to put the book down until I had learned everything that I could about these characters. And every time something happened in the book I always thought I knew what was going to happen next but every single time I was wrong. I also loved the realness of all of it: the emotions held within the journal, the awkwardness of having a crush, the feelings of wanting to live your life the way you want, living up to expectations, and the pressures of family and society. It was all done very well. The romance was only a small part of the book, but it was also done well. But don’t go into this book thinking it’s a romance novel, because I that is not the main focus. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of YA contemporaries, mysteries, coming-of-age books, or road trip books. I gave Golden 5 stars.