Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 14th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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 book, guys. This book. It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. It deserves all the praise it’s gotten. I want to just bathe in the beauty of Jessi Kirby’s prose, the subtle perfection of the romance, and the touching importance of the message. I love this book. Please go buy it. That is all.
Of course not. I want to give this book a real review but I feel like my words won’t do it justice. Just like the best contemporary novels out there (and keep in mind that I’m not a big contemporary reader), this is a story that has to be experienced. That’s what I like most when I find the right contemporary reads: they find a way to touch my heart that no other genre can manage. It’s the realism and the relevance. It’s how you can read a book and relate to it so much because the main character explains things you’ve felt before or are feeling now, that you thought you were alone in before.
And that’s what Golden does. Golden is an ode to my high school self (and to a lesser extent who I still am today). I had my entire college education more or less planned out to a tee when I was 16 years old. I never lived in the moment. It was all about achievements and accomplishments that would get me to my future. If you’re someone like me, you have to read Golden. You just have to. The message will strike a chord within you and probably make you cry
So much coincided to truly make that message resonate with me. First of all, Parker is an awesome main character, and pretty much me written into a book. She’s a hard worker by nature and really thoughtful, but torn between who her mother wants her to be and who she wants to be herself. Second, it was a brilliant cast of characters all around. Parker’s best friend, Kat, is the perfect supporter while having a deep enough characterization to showcase that she’s struggling with her own issues as well. Julianna, who we meet through her journal, was the perfect example of the consequences of idealization, and I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. Mr. Kinney is the perfect, inspirational high school teacher (who makes me miss my own). The list goes on. And third, Jessi Kirby’s beautiful prose made the message that much more endearing and memorable. I love her writing style, and I just want more.
While it’s not as romance-heavy as I may have expected, the romance that was present was irresistible. I love Trevor. He is amazing. And the romance was so touching. It was subtle. It had just the right build up. It was so well thought out, not just by Jessi Kirby, but through Parker’s narrations as well. I just loved every bit of it.
The story itself is true to life and quite gripping. It’s contemporary, coming-of-age, with romance on the side, and an interesting mystery. But it’s all rather subtle. It’s not an action-packed read, but it’s here to make you think. And you will think, about your own choices in life, relationships with people, and more. So for readers who like contemporary but would like a little more depth, you should definitely check this one out. While it won’t have stunning plot twists you never saw coming, it’s so well thought out and developed that it just works perfectly.
Summing Up:I don’t know what else I can really say. I loved the characters. The relationships were brilliant (not just the romantic ones, but the platonic and familial ones as well). The prose, I just won’t shut up about how beautiful it was. But the whole package is of a quality I can’t really express in words. An analysis of the sum of its parts won’t do it justice. So my advice is just to read this book. I can’t imagine you’ll truly regret it.
So tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Golden by Jessi Kirby