Golden by Jessi Kirby
Published: May 14, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Received: ARC for review from publisher
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.There comes a moment every so often when I read something and it forces me realize that I read A LOT. So much that some things are good, others are just ok for entertainment... and then the rare finds that simply take my breath away and remind me why I love the power of literature so much. Jessi Kirby has left me with those feelings (and so much more) with Golden. It's a story that resonates deep within me and I have the urge to experience it over and over again.
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. [simon & schuster]
It's a simple story, really. A girl living by the rules her whole life; always doing what's right and expected from her. But then a moment presents itself, allowing her to make a choice. Do something bold and daring, that no one would expect? Or follow the path that's been handed to her? Right from the beginning this story caused me to reflect on my own life. I found myself evaluating my own choices and deciding if I, too, chose the comfortable path. When a story hits you so hard that it causes personal reflection, you realize something amazing is unfolding on the pages.
There is a story inside a story with this one. Parker Frost finds a journal that's been written 10 years earlier by a graduating senior who devastatingly crashed in a snow storm one fateful night. Her and her boyfriend's supposed deaths have been the town's nightmare, but also part of its history. In their memory, a scholarship has been made for graduating seniors to pursue their dreams, that were cut way too short for them. Parker is in the running to receive this scholarship, but the journal uncovers stories and truths that have been dormant for far too long, causing Parker to reevaluate her own life and look more deeply at the choices she's about to make.
I love how Kirby took us inside the story of the journal, but still kept it relevant to Parker and her present day story. The two worked so beautifully and left me guessing what would come next. Golden is not just a story about Parker, and the choices she makes; but it's also about the supporting cast and how their choices reflect those around them -- for better, or worse.
Jessi Kirby has been a favorite author of mine because of her previous novels, Moonglass and In Honor, but there is something so unique about Golden that stands out from the others. Her growth as a writer is obvious in the words she weaves around this bittersweet mystery. Kirby's storytelling really took form in this one and submerged me, as the reader, right into the novel itself. The references to Robert Frost's poems throughout swept me away and worked so beautifully with the story she created. Golden has reminded me to be bold, be daring, choose something out of the ordinary; because you never know where that path may lead you... unless you try.