Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review: Golden, by Jessi Kirby @JessiKirby

Note: I read Golden for free online from The free books are available for a limited time, and I only had two days to read Golden. I read it on my iPad and found the pulseit reader to be easy to use. I'm not sure how often they offer books to read for free, but I recommend checking it out!

I really enjoyed the characterizations in Golden, but I had difficulty believing a major revelation towards the end of the story.

Parker is a perfect student and a perfect daughter. She found out that she's a finalist for a 4-year scholarship to the college of her choice. All she has to do is write a speech and win the scholarship, and all her dreams will come true.

The scholarship is given in honor of two high school seniors who died 10 years ago in a tragic accident on the night of their graduation. Neither body was ever found, assumed to have washed down the river into a very deep lake during a freak late winter storm.

Parker is a TA for one of the English teachers. Every year this teacher assigns the seniors a final project where they write in a journal about their hopes and dreams for their future. One of Parker's assignments is to mail the journals from ten years ago to all the students who wrote them. No one has read the journals since they were sealed into their envelopes. When Parker finds Juliana's journal, she doesn't know what to do. Juliana is the girl who died in the car accident ten years ago along with her boyfriend. Juliana's family has since moved away. Parker is irresistibly compelled to read the journal and find out if there are any clues to what happened to Juliana and her boyfriend. She feels bad about invading those private thoughts, but not bad enough to stop reading.

Parker kind of becomes obsessed. She eventually lets her friend Kat know about the journal. Parker is also becoming restless. We see her change, partly because of what she is reading in the journal, and partly because she sees the end of her high school career, and possibly her chance with Trevor -- the guy who has been flirting with her for years. Maybe she should give Trevor a chance, and maybe she should be a little more adventurous like Kat wants her to be.

Golden is a book about self-discovery. It does contain a road trip, but only for about 30% of the book, and there's so much more. I loved Parker's growth. I loved Kat -- what a great best friend -- one who allows Parker to be herself, but still pushes her to break the mold that she has squeezed herself into. There isn't a huge amount of romance in Golden. But the slow and sweet, if a bit choppy, relationship that Parker develops with Trevor is an important part of Golden.

So, Parker does solve the mystery about the accident ten years ago. I really didn't like the answer to this mystery. I didn't buy it -- but I understand how it made Parker's story so easy, so I get why Kirby did it. Sometimes you have to suspend some disbelief and quit asking questions about how this could happen and just go with it. So I did.

Golden is a great contemporary that teens will really enjoy. There are a lot of interesting characters here, and I haven't mentioned everything that enriches the plot. Like the art. And Parker's mother. And the speech. And Orion. I could go on, but just let me say Golden is worth the read, and I will be happy to recommend it to my contemporary fans.

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, May 14, 2013
eBook obtained from
288 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I'm a bit torn on this one to be honest. I know many people put Kirby's books in the realm of Sarah Dessen but I just don't feel the emotional punch as I do with Dessen's book. I liked Moonglass fair enough but it didn't really separate itself from all the other realistic fiction reads that I've read.

    1. A bit like Dessen, but I agree -- not the same caliber. Although I did like this one more than Moonglass I think.

  2. This book hadn't really caught my attention until your review. I'm now going to have to read the book just to find out the answer to the mystery. And I'll definitely check out Pulseit. Thanks!


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