Golden by Jessi Kirby
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Release Date: May 14th 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Goodreads description: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
Parker lives according to her mom’s should. She should study all the time, work hard, be valedictorian, get a scholarship, and become a doctor. She should devote her life to her future. Parker’s best friend Kat has a different idea of should. She thinks Parker should do something unexpected, something wild. Senior year is ending and life as Parker knows it is changing. When she finds the journal of a missing icon of the community, she begins to find her own version of should.
Each year an English teacher assigns his senior students a journal to write about what they plan to do with their lives. Ten years later he mails students their journals. They get to look back and see how much they’ve changed and what was important to them in the past. This year, Parker is his assistant and mails the journals for him. What she doesn’t expect to see is Julianna Farnetti’s journal. She knows she shouldn’t read the journal, but she can’t resist. Julianna and Shane were golden and special. They went missing ten years ago at the end of their senior year. Everyone thinks they died and ended up at the bottom of the lake because that’s where the car they were in was found.
Reading journal entries written in the weeks before Julianna’s famous disappearance, Parker finds herself relating to the words of a town legend. Julianna followed expectations but wanted more for herself. The more Parker reads, the closer she feels to the missing girl. She becomes emotionally involved with Julianna’s story. Parker also learns more about Julianna’s life and starts questioning the circumstances of her disappearance. With the help of Kat and Trevor, the boy Parker’s always wanted, she seeks out to find the truth.
I like Parker a lot. She’s easy to relate to and feets realistic. The way she interacts with Kat, Trevor, and her mom feel real. I got frustrated with her for not being able to see certain things, but only because I was really invested. Throughout the story, she learns a lot about herself. She decides to make changes in her life and go after what she really wants. Parker really looks inside herself and definitely grows. She makes mistakes, she accepts them and she moves on.
Parker’s relationships add a lot to the story. I really liked Kat, too. All fictional best friends are not equal, and Kat is exciting and wild but very supportive. It’s easy to see that she really wants the best for her friend. I am also very fond of Trevor. He is genuine and sweet. In the beginning, he kind of seemed like a jerk but he quickly grew on me. I love the romance in this book, and that the book isn’t only about romance. Parker’s mom was infuriating at times, and there were door slamming arguments that really added authenticity to the high school age.
There were a few things that weren’t perfect for me that are hard to talk about without spoiling. Some things didn’t seem realistic to me, which was annoying but I still loved this book. When I took a break from reading, it stayed on my mind the whole time. It’s a book that I ended up dwelling on in a good way. I can see myself pushing it on friends and wanting to reread it sometime! I also want to read Jessi Kirby’s other books, In Honor and Moonglass now!