Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Posted June 20, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Golden by Jessi KirbyGolden by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 14th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 278
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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.

4.5 Stars

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 like a baby a lot a bit.

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. And I wish there were more of it, dammit.

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

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Basically everyone.

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20 responses to “Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

  1. ReemAdelEid

    I've been hearing great things about this book, but I wanted a full length review to be sure. I am the girl who is trying to figure out the next 5 years or so in her life, so I can really relate to that. I don't pick contemporaries that often, but every once in a while I make an exception, and after this review, I think Golden is the exception.

    Great review! 😀
    My recent post Can You Handle a Romanceless Book?

  2. achoquet

    I'm assuming the .5 deduction was for the lack of full-blown romance? Haha. That actually was just the right amount for me, being someone who doesn't read contemporary or romance often.

    But I agree, everything about this book was so beautiful, and I think so many people can relate to it on such a deep level. (I know I did.) I don't read usually read contemporary, but even I am glad I made an exception for this book. Glad you loved it too 😀
    My recent post Bookish Thoughts: Chapter Titles

  3. YES! This book is absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with it when I read it earlier this year, and I'm sure it's the kind of read that I'll be able to revisit again and again. The way you described your own reaction to it is something I understand, as it was similar to my own. So glad you enjoyed it!
    My recent post Sizzle & Swoon: Our Favorite Heroes

  4. Natalie R.

    This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time, and I want to read it so badly but there are just so many other books I already own that I should probably read… 🙁 I'm excited to read a contemporary with a bit of a mystery woven into it, and I can't wait to see what all the fuss is about over Jessi Kirby's writing. I can't wait to swoon over her prose!

    As soon as I get ahold of this book I'll be like: <img src=""&gt;
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

  5. This is on my list to read this summer! I'm honestly just waiting for my self imposed book buying ban to be over so that I can buy it. The cover is so gorgeous I had to have it in physical, not kindle form! Also, I've heard so much about this and the story sounds amazing. I'm excited to read it especially with how great you say the prose is!

  6. Thank you so much! Yeah, I think even non-contemporary readers could easily see something of themselves in this book and connect with it a good bit. It is the exception, indeed. I hope you enjoy it!!

  7. Haha, yeah, I guess the .5 is because I wanted a tiny bit more of that romance. Seriously, with the awesome build up, I just like a little bit more of the gratifying part at the end. 🙁

    i know you're not a big contemporary fan either, so I'm so glad you enjoyed it too 😀 it's just a great book all around, and I think almost everyone would really like it.

  8. Oh yeah, I'm so glad to have bought this book because not only is it beautiful on my shelf, but it's probably also a book I could revisit. Can't wait to read it in like 5 years, and look back on my life choices again, haha. 🙂

  9. YES definitely read this 🙂 You'll love it for sure. It's just really, really great. And yeah, I would buy this in hardcover for sure, because it's so stunning.

  10. I think you're much like me on the contemporary front, but in that case I think you'll probably really like this one as well. it's just very very touching. I hope you like it if you do check it out 🙂

  11. latenightswithgoodbooks

    I agree with everything you've written here. I don't really consider myself much of a fan of contemporary novels. I still LOVE being able to relate to the protagonist of any book I read, of course, but it doesn't necessarily have to be because a character is experiencing similar situations or living the same type of everyday life. Golden, though, is definitely an exception. It really is quite a lovely story that Kirby has created. And I was so glad the romance actually took the backburner. This was Parker and Julianna's story and perfect that way. 🙂
    My recent post Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

  12. Aww, I'm glad you liked it so much too! I agree, if the romance had been more heavy, it may have overshadowed the important message, so I guess it's good that they didn't do that. But I wish there was more kissing, I dunno, I just thought Trevor was amazing 🙂

  13. I don't know that I'll relate to the narrator as much as some other people have, but I love everything you have to say about this! A story that truly resonantes with you, in prose that is beautiful and articulate, with relationships that you love? Sigh…if only all reviews were this gushing!
    My recent post Keeping Up With the Blogosphere

  14. Thank you!!! I agree, I'd love to gush about books like this more often, but the books need to be deserving, haha. But Golden certainly is 🙂

  15. […] Golden and A Mad, Wicked Folly are small embellishments, just on the spine, but SERIOUSLY PRETTY. Not only are they shiny, but they both tie to the stories so well. I actually forgot about The Beginning of Everything‘s embellishment, but I was browsing the books on my shelf for this post and rediscovered it. It’s SO CUTE, and now that book is higher on my priority list to read. Better Off Friends was a total surprise, but it’s so cute how it echoes the cover. The book also alternates perspectives between the guy and girl, and at the top of each chapter, it has one of them on the swing. Total cute design. Cruel Beauty‘s rose is just adorable. The School for Good and Evil is nice too, though it may pale a bit in comparison to the others. But I love how they reuse the school crest everywhere. Ugh, I need to read this soon. […]