Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 14, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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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.
Golden was my very first Jessi Kirby book, and since SO many people I know adore her I was a little worried I’d fall short of jumping on the bandwagon. Golden just sounded too amazing to pass up, though, so I went for it! Let me tell you, Golden is amazing! I don’t know why I waited so long!
Parker is a descendent of ROBERT FROST! He’s definitely my favorite poet, and I just loved the hat tips to his work throughout the story. I really connected with Parker. She’s a good girl, overachiever, and teacher’s pet. She’s never done anything wrong, and she’s never gone out on a limb and done something daring or adventurous. When she finds the late Julianna Farnetti’s journal in a box of class journals from ten years ago that she’s in charge of mailing back to the authors, she can’t help but snoop. In the process of snooping, she learns the truth, puts two and two together and decides it’s her job to solve the mystery of the death of Summit Lakes High’s so-called golden couple. I’ve always been the good girl–the one who never did anything wrong. And I’ve always loved mystery and making the truth known. Parker is me in high school.
As Parker delves deeper into Julianna’s life, she starts sneaking around and breaking rules to find out what really happened. She starts questioning the future she thought she wanted. Instead, she goes on a wild goose chase with her best friend, Kat, and her long-time crush, Trevor. We all know how I feel about road trips. I just love the dynamic of characters sitting in a car talking, because they have nothing else to do. I loved the witty banter, and the introspective moments they shared together. I learned so much about these three characters, and they learned a lot about each other. Kat is an amazing best friend, and Trevor is so unbelievably sweet, yet snarky.
I love small towns in books, and this one takes place in a town small enough that everyone was really rocked by the events of the fatal car crash. It really seemed to have bonded them together. Even ten years later, it’s hard for them to get over it. I loved the supporting characters, and really enjoyed watching their hearts finally start to recover.
I love this story within a story. We learn about Parker and her friends, but we also get to learn about Julianna and what it was like for her to be a teen in love with a guy who was not so good for her. Julianna’s journal entries were beautiful, and actually my favorite part of the book. I’m actually inspired to start writing my own journal again!
I am SO scared I will give too much away with this review, so I will just leave it at this. Jessi is an amazing author. Even though there is little to no romance in Golden, I loved it. It filled me with hope, had me swooning, had me intrigued, and had me smiling. I love this coming of age story, and would recommend it for anyone looking for a sweet contemporary.