Golden by Jessi Kirby
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)
Parker Frost is that good girl who does everything right and is afraid to veer from the perfectly mapped out plan she has for her life: good grades, Stanford, career as a doctor, and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. No, not really. The main problem is that Parker is living her life to meet her mother’s stringent expectations. It’s not that she is opposed to the goals she’s set–she just doesn’t know what she wants. She only knows to “want” this life. Things take an interesting twist when, in doing a project for a teacher at school, she stumbles across the journal of Julianna Farnetti, a student who died ten years ago in a tragic car accident. Since then the deaths of Julianna and her perfect boyfriend, Shane, have haunted the town. And in a very un-Parker moment, she reads the journal. It becomes a challenge to her. She becomes engrossed in Julianna’s thoughts and dreams and she begins to try to unravel the mystery surrounding this girl.
This was a pretty good one. I liked the whole story within a story element. I had a tough time relating to Parker at first (which is HIGHlarious since I was totally that nerdy, never take a chance kid in high school, too), but I liked her. I found it difficult to see why she didn’t communicate with her mother and seek a little more guidance from both of her parents on where she wanted to be in life…but it was easy to overlook that.
And the school project Parker is helping her teacher with? Oh em gee, what a beautiful, fantastic idea. I thought it was wonderful, the way Kirby used that to show two girls who don’t know each other–Julianna and Parker– grappling with some of the same expectations and challenges. I loved getting roped into Juliana’s life and her love story with Shane. It was beautifully written and so easy to fall into, I’d read most of the book without even realizing it. My only real complaint there was that the journal itself, while beautifully engrossing, hardly sounded like the journal of a high school student. I understand that it needs to be well-written to truly get the emotion across, but the descriptiveness, the details of the conversations, the way it was all laid out, felt very much like I was reading anything other than a journal. It felt like I was reading, well, a YA book. But seriously, that’s a minor complaint.
All in all, I like where this story went. It was warm and inspiring in the right places and more than a little heartbreaking at times. And I absolutely loved that it was laced with quotes from Robert Frost (he’s a distant relative of Parker) and I embraced the idea that Juliana’s journal– and her life, really–inspire Parker to take risks she may not have been willing to otherwise.
Crush Intensity: 4.0 I liked this book. I really wanted to loooooove it, and for some reason I didn’t. Still, I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA stories.
Where’d I Get This Copy? The library, otherwise known as the Second Happiest Place on Earth. Thanks to my pal, Juliene for recommending it to me!