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Golden by Jessi Kirby

Saturday, May 4, 2013
Synopsis: Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).
 
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.
 
Review: In Golden, Jessi Kirby crafts a coming of age story about a girl who never takes the road less traveled—and a girl who drove off the road a long time ago.
 
Parker is a character that I—and probably a lot of other book nerds—can easily relate to. Partly in fear of disappointing her mother, Parker always does her homework, has plans of getting into Stamford’s pre-med program on a full scholarship, and frequently gives up opportunities to hang with friends and enjoy herself for her studies. Parker’s character is foiled by her best friend, Kat, who is staying home after high school, works her charm on everyone she’s interested in, and has “Carpe diem” tattooed on her wrist. With high school coming to an end, Kat encourages Parker to do one thing for herself, one thing no one would expect her to do. When Parker finds the journal of the girl who disappeared into a storm with her boyfriend years ago, she does that one thing: she takes the journal.
 
The journal turns Parker’s life upside down. She becomes immersed in Julianna’s story. Did she love her boyfriend, Shane? Who is Orion? Was she really lost to the river?
 
As Parker unravels the secrets of Julianna’s story, she discovers truths about her own life as well, truths that she has been repressing for years. But will realizing that she needs to repair her relationships with her parents and that she just might like that boy who’s been flirting with her since middle school be enough to make Parker change her life?
 
The mystery of Julianna’s life provides the urgency Kirby’s novel would lack if this element was not included. Julianna’s and Parker’s coming of age stories evolve together, twisting and turning until they converge in an ending that even the most disciplined of readers never could have predicted.
 
Reviewed by: Stephanie
 
Rating: 4/5 DIAMONDS
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