Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: Golden
Author: Jessi Kirby
Published: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 278
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“It seems to me that the experiences that stay with you, the things you'll always remember, aren't the ones you can force, or go looking for. I've always thought of those things as the ones that somehow find you.”
― Jessi Kirby, Golden

Synopsis
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. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Golden is one of those books that remains with you long after it ends. After finishing it, I had to let the book settle before I could even think of writing a coherent review. Reading Golden made me feel vulnerable and alive in a way I haven't for far too long. From start to finish, this book is overflowing with hope, wonder, and pure, raw emotion. When I saw all the hype surrounding it, I was both nervous that it was undeserving of the high praise and excited to see if it would be a new favorite. And I'm so happy to say that Golden is worthy of every positive review it has received, as it exceeded even my highest expectations.
Golden tells the story of Parker Frost, an over-achiever about to graduate high school and see all of her hard work come to fruition. Parker has been successful in all of her high school endeavors, consistently making honor roll and participating in a long list of extracurricular activities that would impress any college board. But as Parker's senior year comes to a close and graduation approaches, Parker realizes that she's never taken a risk. She chose the hardworking, straightforward approach to college, paving the way for a medical career, and has never, as her favorite poet Robert Frost so aptly puts, taken "the road less traveled." She finds Julianna's journal and realizes that the happiness of the so-called "golden" couple Shane Cruz and Julianna Farnetti may have been an illusion, and that even Julianna had regrets as she neared graduation. This discovery inspires Parker to live a little before she misses her chance.

What Parker reads in Julianna's journal motivates her to go on a adventurous road trip in search of answers, but she is not alone when she sets off. Parker's best friend Kat and her crush Trevor Collins tag along, and I loved these two almost as much as I loved Parker. Some people might argue that Kat is a bad influence, but I believe the exact opposite. Parker has strived to be the very best she can be when it comes to academics, but in result, she has missed out on so many life experiences. I believe Kat is the only thing saving Parker from complete insanity. She is pretty much all of Parker's social life, and I think their differences only make their friendship stronger. As for Trevor, I wasn't sure about him in the beginning. I was anticipating yet another bad boy turned lovesick out of the blue, but I was pleasantly surprised. He is there for Kat and supports her goals. There isn't much romance in Golden, but I enjoyed the little bit there was and it didn't overshadow the main storyline.

Golden is beautifully written, the kind of prose that brings tears to your eyes. It's that lovely. It's a moving story of living life to the fullest and snatching opportunities when they present themselves. Parker has always been a cautious individual trying to live up to her mother's high expectations, but as Golden progresses, she begins to better understand the difference between what her mother wants for her and what she herself wants to do with her life. This revelation is so liberating for Parker, and it was amazing to see her gain some much-needed independence from her mother. As we witness Parker's conflicted relationship with her mother, we also see why Parker and her mother share such a limited understanding of each other, and it is easier to understand why Parker makes the decisions she does. This helped me to get to know Parker more, and I really grew to love her and her evolving personality.

What I really love and appreciate about Golden is how Kirby achieves this wonderful balance between prose and poetry. As I've already mentioned, Parker loves the work of the poet Robert Frost and even entertains the idea that they're related due to their shared surname. Frost's poems are interspersed throughout the book, and they don't just float there without any apparent significance. Instead, they fit in with the storyline, as if they were written specifically for Golden. One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite poems ever - "The Summer Day" - is also interlinked with core plot developments...
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver
After a favorite teacher writes this quote on the classroom blackboard, Parker can't seem to dislodge this important question from her mind. As she considers the question again and again, she realizes that her answer might not match up with her reality.

I picked up Golden, expecting an enjoyable book, but I had no idea that such a meaningful and touching read was in store for me. It made me consider my own life choices and whether I was living or simply breathing. I can say with utmost confidence that with this book, I struck gold!



8 comments:

  1. I'm currently in a reading slump and I think Golden is the right book to reel me back to reading! Thanks for your great review :)

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    1. Thanks! And I agree! If you're in a reading slump, I sympathize. I go through them every so often, and it's painful! But Golden will definitely get you out of it! :D Hope you enjoy it!

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  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! I am so glad you loved this one, Courtney! :D I absolutely adored this novel and was so impressed by it. I wasn't a fan of Kirby's last novel, but this was just remarkable. It truly spoke to me and it exemplified everything I actually want New Adult to be. I love these self-discovery novels and the integration of both these girls stories together was such a unique and beautiful way to convey this theme. Lovely, lovely review, dear! I can't wait for Kirby's next book! :)

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    1. Awww why thank you darling!!!! It really was a wonderful story, and I wish I could forget it and read it all over again anew. It was so thought-provoking and inspiring. It made me want to take some chances! And I want to read one of her other books, but I'm not sure if I'd like Moonglass or In Honor. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like In Honor :(

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  3. That pun at the end...har har har.
    I am so glad to hear that you really enjoyed this book, Cort! I've been anticipating this book ever since the reviews started getting posted, but after reading Kirby's Moonglass I was a little bit nervous. Moonglass, while a good book, is far from the great, fantastic, life-changing book that everyone claims Golden is. Does Kirby grow that drastically as a writer within a few years? I hope so. I really want to love this book. But you loving it gives me confidence that I could also love it. Lovely review!

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    1. You know I love my puns! :D

      And I wouldn't worry about it. I've seen a lot of people who weren't as into her earlier books LOVE Golden. Seriously. It seems like she did evolve as a writer. And I don't know if her earlier books are for me, but I might give them a try. I'm definitely looking forward to her next book tho. Golden was impressive and it proves that Kirby does have some real writing talent. I can't wait to hear what you think! Thanks Manda!

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  4. Yay! I absolutely adored this one, too. The writing truly is so lovely and simple and perfect. I loved Kat, too, and thought she balanced Parker perfectly (as Parker helped balance her). I loved Trevor and hoped for them to get it together, but was so happy that their hint of romance didn't overshadow the main story. I loved the English teacher and the role he played. Yay all-around! Great review, Courtney!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

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    1. Yeah the English teacher was AMAZING and he reminded me of an English professor in college who inspired me. And I would have loved to do that assignment. What a neat and creative idea! I also think Parker and Kat really were good for each other, and I loved how they were always hanging out at the cafe. It made me want a chai tea SO MUCH! :P What a great book! Glad you enjoyed it too and thanks Natalie!

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