Golden — Jessi Kirby

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Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost may be a distant relative of Robert Frost, but she 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 mystery in her lap—one that might be the key to uncovering the truth behind a town tragedy, she decides to take a chance.

Golden is amazing. Lovers of contemporaries — and especially mysteries — will adore Golden and Jessi Kirby. She’s a great, fresh voice with tons of talent and beautiful stories. Golden follows Parker Frost, a senior in high school and hopeful Stanford attendee. She’s always followed the straight-and-narrow, until she finds a journal. Julianna Farnetti’s journal, to be exact. Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz were high school royalty ten years ago. They were the golden couple everyone looked up to. Unfortunately, they never received their happily ever after; the two died in a horrific car crash on a dangerously snowy night. Even though she thinks it’s wrong, Parker can’t resist cracking open the pages of Julianna’s private thoughts. Parker is shocked to learn just how many secrets Julianna kept, from Shane and from the world. The journal also raises a mystery surrounding the night Julianna died, a mystery Parker can’t ignore.

Kirby has a talent for character development. I fell in love with each and every character in this book. There were a lot of instances where Parker reminded me of myself and I can see a lot of girls very easily relating to her. The fact that she can only come up with witty quips for her crush, Trevor, when her best friend’s around describes my high school experience so perfectly and I loved seeing a character who wasn’t unbelievably without realizing “just how perfect she is,” according to every male love interest ever. No, Parker was a perfect blend of awkward, shy, snarky, and brave. She’s a great role model and the type of person I’d love for a best friend.

Then we have Trevor and Kat, Parker’s best friend. Finally, a fully developed best friend. We get to see why Kat and Parker love each other and just how close they are. But we also get to see how frustrating close relationships like that can be, and we see the two push each other to be better. Kat encourages Parker to take more risks, while Parker encourages Kat to think before she acts. They’re best friends that compliment each other, neither a sidekick to the other. Kirby has really offered quite a beautiful friendship in these two. Meanwhile, Trevor is that guy we all know — the guy we’ve known and gone to school with for years. The guy in the back of our mind that we never really think of romantically until one day we just do. He’s not a mysterious stranger who appears out of nowhere with only eyes for Parker, thank God. The two have history, chemistry, and Trevor’s just honestly a nice guy with depth. I love him so much and while I appreciated that he wasn’t the focus and Parker’s world didn’t revolve around him, I still want to see more of him because I’m ridiculously in love. A sequel is downright necessary, if only so I can drool over Trevor a little longer.

I’m a lover of contemporaries, but I’m a huge fan of contemps with truly engaging, riveting plots. And Golden delivers just that. I couldn’t put the book down. As much as I loved the characters, the plot and the mystery surrounding Julianna commandeered the majority of my attention, much to my surprise and delight. My only problem was Julianna’s writing style in her journal. Julianna’s journal entries read too sophisticated for me to believe. They sounded more like the author and/or narrator. Don’t get me wrong, the journal entries were beautifully written. Just too beautifully written for me to believe they were the musings of a high school senior. But I decided not to let that distract me and just let myself enjoy the beauty of Kirby’s writing.

Oh, another important thing to note: Parker has a mother who is actually present and concerned about Parker’s well-being. As in, she’s not mysteriously gone all the time so that the characters can throw huge parties without getting in trouble or come and go at all hours. This is something that bothers me a lot in current YA and I think Kirby did a fantastic job of incorporating Parker’s relationship with her kind of heliocoptery mom. Points to Kirby for recognizing that teenagers do, in fact, have parents. Well-meaning parents that sometimes get things wrong, at that. This relationship was just so perfectly rendered.

So, essentially, you should read Golden. It’s a quick, easy read with a gripping plot and likable characters. Oh, and there are some fun Frost quotes and allusions. Who doesn’t love Frost? After you’re done, you’ll probably want to bow to Kirby for allowing you the pleasure of reading such a great contemporary. I mean, that’s how I’m feeling. And I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed for some sort of sequel or spin-off.

Pages: 288
Publication Date: May 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Provided by Publisher
Rating [rating: 4]

Teaser Quote: “I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for him in the beginning, not to be able to show the depth of his grief for her or what it meant. Not to be acknowledged as someone who lost her.