This story engaged me right from the start. The whole premise of a teen who tries so hard to be 'perfect' in every way while missing out of taking chances changes once Parker finds the journal of a local urban legend. Her English teacher has students write in a journal in their senior year and then he mails it back to them ten years later. I had a college professor who did something similar only we had to write a letter to our 'future' self. I admit it was kind of strange and yet fascinating to read a letter from my past. But imagine a journal?
Parker is kind of like Robert Frost, the famous poet, that she was named after. She has a dreamy soul but doesn't want to disappoint her mother who wants her to get into Stanford. Parker's best friend, Kat is the exact opposite. She seizes moments and tries to get Parker to loosen up. Then there's Trevor, a guy Parker's crushed on since middle grade.
This is part mystery, part suspense, and romance. The journal entries opened up the possibility that not all happened to be golden with local urban legend couple. This is where Parker starts to arc as a character. She struggles with what she's done--taking a journal that she wasn't supposed to--and feelings of searching for the real truth. Add the road trip where it's up to Parker to take Kat's advice with the guy she's dreamed about.
Everything about this story is golden. Readers will be swept off their feet as they follow Parker's choices to a satisfying conclusion.
Like with her other 2 books there is a bit of mystery born from a tragedy. If you don’t know what loss is, don’t worry, she will teach you slowly. She will make you love the characters, connect with them on many deep levels, she will break their hearts (and yours) and she will give you just a pinch of humour (maybe a bit more) and loveliness every now and then to heal the pain that starts to take over your heart.
The highs are so high and the lows are so low, the characters are complex – never too good, sometimes hitting the bottom only to then keep afloat… There are really not enough words left in this world for me to express all the feelings her books convey.
At this point I would read everything from this author, she is simply amazing and her words always leave me misty eyed. This is a book I wish I’ve read 10 years ago – definitely recommended!
Review originally posted at: http://www.readingaftermidnight.com/jessi-kirby/review-golden.html
If I were to describe the skeleton of Golden’s plot, it would sound silly and overdone, very much like the Nicholas Sparks books that the protagonist is so much in love with. In some respects, I do think the story Kirby tells is far-fetched and straight out of Hollywood. This book is neither dark nor heavy, but though it lands on the “lighter” side of the Seriousness Scale, it’s not pure fluff. Because of the way the story was approached, it felt authentic even while the story was almost like a fairytale. I’m not sure if this is making sense, but suffice it to say, Jessi Kirby does a good job telling the story in a way that’s not off-putting.
Parker Frost, her best friend Kat, and longtime crush Trevor are all great characters. I appreciated how they were people instead of names that filled roles in the story. Trevor, especially, was a welcome presence in Golden. I loved how he was just a typical boy with faults and goals, rather than being a love interest who fits into a certain stereotype (awkward nerd, cocky bad boy, etc.). Parker’s internal struggles felt real to me, and I definitely saw bits of myself in her. Sometimes authors like to make their protagonist a stuffy academic type who’s ugly and shy and longs for a different life and achieves it with the help of some Hot Guy. Here, Parker was able to get what she wanted on her own terms, and not in a drastic or unbelievable way. She wasn’t “prudish overachiever girl” one day and then “strung-out slut” the next. In most aspects, Golden is very subtle in going about what it wants to do, which I really enjoyed.
One big piece of this novel is the presence of Robert Frost’s poetry. It’s a constant theme in the text, not only appearing in epigraphs but also as a tool to make Kirby’s messages more defined. Now, personally, I don’t care for Robert Frost, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate the way his words were woven into the story. I do think I would have preferred that element being left out, simply because I don’t care for literary allusions in my YA, but I do recognize that Golden could not be what it is without those poems and discussions. So there is that.
Other than the poetry, I wasn’t completely sold on the story, simple because it is sort of Nicholas Sparks-esque. I was happy that Kirby was able to recognize the fantastic qualities to her plot, but I still had a hard time imagining that most of what happened in this book would happen in real life. I still really enjoyed this book, but it’s not exactly my style.
In any case, Golden is a very good book. It was engaging from start to finish, I thought the story was well-done and that Kirby did an excellent job weaving the various threads. I would certainly be interested in picking up another book of hers, should I get a chance. And in the end, I’m very satisfied with this book.
Parker is that one traveler who stood in a yellow wood trying to decide which road to take. The less traveled by or the more traveled by road. Two choices to make. It's a huge topic of Golden. Most likely the theme. (Actually it is the one of the main themes of Golden.) From this analogy, you should be able to guess which road she taken. If not, perhaps you didn't click on the link or didn't understand the poem. Or you never read the poem.
Golden was entertaining. It was all about the paths, the choices one can make. All these endless possibilities. One after another. Then there is always bandits on the path, taking away chance. Golden was an emotional roller coaster. It was well written, beautiful and surprising in the 'how' section. It was sad yet happy between the pages. In the journal entries of Julianna Farnetti.
The writing was amazing. It was good as Divergent by Veronica Roth. I love books like this. The description of the love interest could be much more descriptive. Then it would be much more interesting like Jace Lightwood. Then Golden would be a whole new book, so unlike the Golden already here.
The plot was goooood. I love Golden! All those twist and turns were exciting. It was nice to read this book right after Grave Mercy.
The ending! I love how Jessi Kirby wrote the ending. The ending allowed readers to discuss theories and ridiculous ideas. Golden's ending=More Discussion about Golden. Good job, Jessi Kirby. Wonderful ending.
Parker Frost... Amazing girl. She's smart, beautiful in personality, and hilarious. I love her. She's torn between choices. She has to fight between two parts. Her heart and her mind. Her want and her mother's want. (What is it always the parents?) I don't blame her choices, they may not be good, but they are interesting. Parker is hopeful. She has a lot of hope, that fades with Hope's decision. But she gets up and went through it.
Julianna: Even though she doesn't appear very much, readers can feel her spirit. I can't believe her choices in her conflicts.
Rating: Five out of Five
Parker is a main character that I can relate to. She is smart, driven, and doesn't really step out of line much, and she has the best friend that urges her to let go a little more, but still supports her all the way. This could have been me for the most part in school, so it definitely brings back memories.
Watching her connect with Juliana was great, and I loved that mystery and even though I knew the ending to her story because it is one of the first things we learned, I didn't know how she got there, and if there might be more to it than it seems. And Parker goes on that emotional and revealing journey through the pages and discovers a lot about herself and her life through it. And even learns to let loose. She begins to questions what choices she made and what choices were made by her well-meaning but still controlling mom.
The chemistry and banter with Trevor was nice, and I was always anxious to see if it would develop into more as the story went on. I loved his flirtatious nature, and his patience. That there is more to him than a pretty face--he is counted on for getting them out of binds, and as support for a roadtrip that is the final catalyst to change so much for Parker.
The journey to Parker growing as a character was awesome to read about. Her friendship with Kat brought her out more and more, and she found herself in the pages of the journal, as well as her quest to find out more about Juliana, Shane and Orion. I went through the gambit of emotions with her, from joy, acceptance, guilt, heart fluttering at a romance in the pages, and then the splitting of the heart when other desires are made know, to crushing disappointment, loss and pain.
Ms. Kirby, the author writes gorgeously and at a sweet pace.
There were plenty of surprises and always something to keep me turning the pages. I loved the ending, how it all came together, and at first I thought there would be no possible way that would happen, but sure enough, I loved it. It matched the story and themes.
Bottom Line: Emotional journey of self-discovery.
Jessi Kirby has always been a good author. From Moonglass, to In Honor, and now Golden, she has made an emotional wreck out of all of us. Golden is a story within a story about what it means to take a chance, and trust in fate. And at the beginning of each chapter she gives us a quote from Robert Frost that feels like advice to me. I hope one day I'll be able to write inspiring words like Frost, and to paint a picture of greatness like Kirby.
While reading this, I got some devastating news. My aunt who was also my godmother passed away. It further helped to drive home one of the main points in this novel, life is short so what do you plan on doing with yours. This made the story so much more real for me. Seeing that anything could happen, don't hesitate to make YOU happy. Even if it means that there is someone that will be unhappy with you about it.
That was the only reason I didn't like Parker. She tried making everyone else happy rather than herself. I was so happy when she decided to go on that journey and even though things didn't turn out as she thought they would, she should be happy that she even had the chance to find out. That's what a risk is. She went out on a limb to find out something, and for her character, that's saying a lot. But everything else about Parker I truly loved. Her character felt so real and all her relationships (with her mother, her best friend Kat) all felt real as well. The best thing about her character, was the fact where she finally took control of her life. This is truly one of the best coming of age novels I've ever read.
The romance was a little upsetting. I wanted all of the triangles to work out in the end, but at the same time I know that it doesn't always work like that. When things start to come together, it seems so much more believable and less like a fairy tale.
What I loved most about this story is the way it makes you think. So many different quotes I had to write down in my quote notebook because I had to sit back and think how I would answer that about my own life. Mr. Kinney's assignment alone was enough for me to sit back and break out my own journals from years and years ago and see if there was anything I'd wished I could do differently.
This poignant tale of choice left me reeling. As Parker said herself, you won't know whether your choice "is right or wrong until [you've] lived with it" and I'm hoping that whether my choices are right or wrong, I will have the courage to face them another day.
Usually, characterization is my favorite part of reading. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the characters in this book, but they were not what made the book for me. Parker was a great narrator. She finally realizes that her life is her life, not her mother's. She realizes that she always plays it safe. She makes a lot of realizations throughout the book, some pleasant, others not so much. She's likeable and easy to relate to. Though all of the characters in this novel showed a lot of growth and I was pleased with them all in the end, I ended up being really proud of Parker.
Kat and Parker are, on the surface, opposites. Parker is a hard worker, follows her mom's order, and doesn't take a lot of risks. Kat is always doing reckless things, she's loud, and certainly not approved by Parker's mom. They balance each other out. I think their friendship is very realistic. It definitely isn't perfect, because no teenage girl friendship is. They may fight. They might not be 100% honest with each other at all times. They may be suspicious of things they shouldn't. But in the end, they support each other and are there for each other and would never really betray one another.
The romance between Parker and Trevor is not the center of the book. The triangle between Julianna, Shane, and Orion is technically the center of the book, but it's not about the romance, no really. Either way, I really like Trevor. At first he seems like the typical player, like, "Hey, let's go hook up in the art supply closet!" But then we realize that it is just a game. He obviously likes Parker, and he puts up with her more crazy moments. Just like Kat, he supports her and he understands her. I was really rooting for their relationship.
To me, the plot is what makes this book. I love quirky adventures like the one in this story. It's more than just a plot. It makes the characters come more alive. Reading this book was refreshing because it was different than the typical contemporary. The original plot line is what allowed this book to truly stick in my head and what made it memorable. Also, the pacing was very natural and flowed well. Between the Robert Frost quotes and references, Julianna's journal, and the school skipping, I was never bored.
So Pretty Much...
If you're a fan of contemporary novels, this is not one to be missed. Kirby has gifted the world with an original, meaningful book perfect for the end of the school year and summer.
Parker Frost is 17 years old and always does what is expected of her. Her mother is controlling and so hard on her. She puts insane amounts of pressure on her to succeed. But when Parker comes across the journal of a local girl who disappeared with her boyfriend 10 years ago all Parker wants to do is find out what really happened to her. She enlists her best friend Kat and her longtime crush Trevor to go with her on a road trip and follow the clues she has put together from reading Julianna's journal.
I wouldn't really call this book a mystery but it did have a bit of a mystery quality to it. I loved seeing Parker put together all clues and thoughts from Julianna. Parker is really someone who follows the rules and does what is expected of her. She does what her mothers wants and never seems to do anything for herself. She ends up so wrapped in the mystery of this journal and becomes so passionate about finding out what really happened. I loved seeing this side of her. Her mom irritated me I could not believe how much pressure was put on Parker. I wanted to cheer when Parker finally decided to do something she wanted even if it was a bit reluctantly.
This book was the perfect read for me as I am a huge fan of love stories. There were love stories galore. From Julianna and Shane's relationship to Parker's crush on Trevor to the mystery guy Julianna writes about in her journal. They were all such sweet relationships. Even though there are so many relationships in this book they were not the main focus and this was nice to see.
Golden is a book about finding out what you really want in life. In fact there is a quote that is used throughout this book that asks just that.
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver
This is a book that shows us it is okay to take chances and go after what we really want. We don't always have to do what will make others happy. What we need to do is what will make ourselves happy. I highly suggest that you pick up Golden. It is full of mystery, romance and life lessons.