Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Golden - Jessi Kirby

Golden book cover
Golden by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks S&S!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost may be a distant relative of Robert Frost, but she 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 mystery in her lap—one that might be the key to uncovering the truth behind a town tragedy, she decides to take a chance. (from Goodreads)

As a self-professed fan of fantasy, I'm surprised to say that most of my favorite books so far this year are contemporaries. While I was trying to gather my thoughts about Golden, it occurred to me that the reason I loved it so was because it felt authentic. Jessi Kirby's talent for stringing words into the most beautiful phrases was certainly appealing. But it is truly Parker and her journey that made me love this story as much as I did.

Parker Frost is yet another main character that I find myself deeply identifying with. She's a typical goal-oriented, rule-driven girl, one who has always been determined to make her mother proud through her achievements. I was completely like that in high school, so I understand her incessant need to follow the rules and to do what was expected of her every. single. time.

It's apparent from the start that Parker is starting to feel restless in her own skin. She begins to question the life she's living and the life she's headed towards (college on a scholarship basically), and it unnerves her. She's been working so hard to accomplish her goals for so long, that to think that all the effort was for nothing is something that's scary and unfathomable. She can't reconcile the thoughts with her reality, and she certainly tries to ignore them for a while.

So when this mystery falls into her lap, it's no surprise that she teeters on the brink of addressing it all or staying safe and sound in her comfort zone. It is also here where I identify with Parker, as she weighs the pros and cons of either a step forward or a step back. We've each encountered that moment in our lives when we don't know what the right thing to do is - and it is the path we choose to take that will change everything or keep everything the same as it always was and is. Even though a part of me willed Parker to be cautious, the bigger part of me just wanted her to take a risk, take a step, take a chance.

It's a universal experience, I believe, to have that point of no return - a moment where you make a decision that you won't be able to take back. Kirby handled this phenomenon incredibly well in her novel, bringing us the parallels of Parker's reality with the reality in the journal she finds, and I like how she juxtaposed the results of making either of those decisions.

We all want to believe that there's a greater force out that there shows us a sign when we need to figure out what we want to do with our lives. Parker's sign is this journal. I like how the journal started Parker on a journey that changed her completely. She discovered that there could be a possible path different from her own, that things you might have least expected to matter - a painting, a moment, a memory - are the ones that could matter most in the end.

Kirby also tackles the universal need to believe that fate can play a hand in things, especially when it comes to missed connections, second chances (or first ones) and that overwhelming, consuming sort of love you only see in the movies. While in most cases, that could turn into something cliche, Jessi instead manages to make it seem raw and real in this book. It's something that toys at each of our minds, and presenting it this simply was a smart choice when writing the book. 

Parker's journey is beautifully handled, as we see both sides of the coin and allowing us to see into her fears, doubts and insecurities. Being able to get a good grasp of Parker was essential to enjoying the book, and I feel she was really given the time to really flourish. This was key in my enjoyment of the book, as I love good character development. Parker's journey definitely reminded me of my own self a few years ago, and I loved that.

In the end, it all boils down to this question: who will you choose to be? It's a question that Parker discovers the answer to, as the novel finally reaches it's end, even as we discover that she still has a long way to go. Closing the last page of Golden and saying goodbye to Parker was like bidding your best friend a "See you soon!" - you know that she'll go on to have more experiences without you, but you also know that maybe, somewhere, someday, you'll see her again.

33 comments:

  1. What a beautiful review, Alexa!!! I feel so upset that I seem to be the only person who didn't LOVE this book (still liked it, but didn't fall in love with it).
    I LOVE "What would you do with your one wild and precious life?" Ohhh. So moving!
    Anyhoo, great review! I absolutely loved reading it :)

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    1. It was such a joy for me to read this book! I loved it even more than I loved In Honor, which I thought was pretty darn great. Jessi Kirby just writes so beautifully. Her way with words and characters is awesome! (And thanks!)

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  2. Fantastic review, Alexa! I had such a difficult time writing mine. You did a great job capturing what this story is about. Golden really resonated with me because it reminded me a lot of what I'm going through right now with moving to NY for the summer and stuff. I thought the writing in this book was gorgeous. I read it in one sitting, which I never do.

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    1. It was SO hard to write my review, if I'm being honest. I think I spent three weeks working on it! But yes, I totally identified with Parker and her story. And I read it in one sitting too!

      (P.S. Have I mentioned that I am SUPER excited for you to come to NY already? Just a little over two weeks left!!!)

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  3. It sounds like Golden really resonated with a LOT of people and I cannot wait to read it. I think I will probably relate a lot to Parker too, esp feeling restless. What a lovely review, Alexa!

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    1. I hope you end up loving it E! It was a beautiful book. And thank you <3 (I cannot wait to see you and hang out, by the way!)

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  4. Ohhh, I can't wait to read this. I've been really surprised by contemporaries this year. They're usually hit or miss for me, but they've been more hit than the fantasies and dystopians! Gorgeous review of a gorgeous book.

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    1. I'm currently in a phase where I'm LOVING contemporary reads. This is odd, since I'm primarily a fantasy reader, but I'm willing to go along with it if it introduces me to amazing reads like Golden!

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  5. I cannot wait to read this one!! I just know I will be able to relate to Parker and I hope she moves me like some of my other favorite contemporaries have. Beautiful review Alexa!

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    1. I really hope you like it! It's one of the contemporaries that really stole my heart this year, especially because I found Parker completely easy to relate to.

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  6. Great review!! I have this on my reader and I am hearing such great things about it. Can't wait to read it!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! It was such a wonderful contemporary read for me, and I was super excited to get to read it so soon. I love it - and I can't wait till I get a hard copy in my hands.

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  7. I'm with Brittany -- I think I liked Moonglass and In Honor a tiny bit better - but I also really enjoyed this one. And the cover is just absolutely gorgeous. I have a finished copy that I'm giving away next week and that drawing stuff in the bottom right corner is all in gold!!!

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Oh WOW! I'm so excited to get the finished copy that I pre-ordered already (though I have to wait a little longer). It looks beautiful from the photo, and I have no doubt I will want to hug it when I see it!

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  8. Oh, this sounds like a good one. I seriously need to read more YA contemp, I've barely read any this year! Parker sounds a lot like me too and I love it when I can relate to a character easily. I've heard great things about this book and can't wait to read it then. Btw, I totally thought you loved contemps more than anything else, lol, but its great you love fantasy as well. That's easily becoming a genre I am loving more and more. Great review!

    Vivian
    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

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    1. Parker is a wonderful contemporary novel. I really enjoyed it, and I think that Kirby did a wonderful job in telling her story!

      Haha, no, I'm a fantasy fan through and through. It's always and forever going to be my first love <3

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  9. Alexa, I can't tell you how excited I am to read this one. Everything about it...just makes me think I'm going to love it. Is it weird to say it CALLS to me? It just feels like my sort of book, like one of those special ones that I'll always remember.

    I think I'll end up like you, and identify with Parker. There is that part of me that's always wanted to be a rebel, but the bigger part that usually wins is a play-by-the-rules kinda girl. I think I am too much of a romantic for my own good, because I believe that doing the right thing will win out in the end, and that people are good. *sighs*

    Anyway, I'm so glad you loved this one. And CHARACTER GROWTH. YES. *fist bump* I really want to make time for this book SOON. Thanks for the lovely review!


    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

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    1. I don't think that's weird at all! I knew, right from the minute I heard about it, that I HAD to read it. Parker just seemed like a character I'd get along well with, and I was proven right. Plus, I loved her story. It wasn't what I expected, but that made me love it even more! I hope you enjoy it when you do get to read it.

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  10. This sounds like coming of age in the BEST WAY. I need this book in my life. Truly, I do. I've heard NOTHING but great things! :)

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    1. I hope you get the chance to read it soon! It's absolutely wonderful, and was the quietly compelling contemporary I need to read at the time. Love it, and I hope you do too!

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  11. All the GLOWING reviews for Golden makes me so eager to read it!! I'm also the goal-oriented, rule-driven girl like Parker and well, nothing gratifies me more than reading the story of a character I can actually RELATE TO. Taking the route less travelled takes lots of courage and I can't wait to read all about that :D

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

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    1. I hope you enjoy Parker's story! I feel like you can identify with her as much as I did, and that will definitely lend to your enjoyment of the book. It's a quietly beautiful story.

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  12. I don't read contemporaries too often because they're usually hit or miss for me, but this one sounds so, so good. After reading your review, I definitely want to give this a read!

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    1. I hope you get the chance to read this Lee! It really is a great contemporary novel, and I think you might really like this one.

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  13. I've been seeing really positive reviews for Golden lately, but I'm just not sure I want to read it. I read In Honor last year, and actually, I wasn't a fan. The main character really frustrated me, especially towards the end. I was actually near tears at one point because I was soooo frustrated with the MC.

    Sooooo, I just can't decide if I want to give this one a try. I'm glad to hear that you loved it though. I certainly love the cover :)

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    1. Aww, I'm sorry to hear about your experience with In Honor (which I enjoyed). Golden is a completely different story, and Parker is a completely different person, so I do hope you end up giving it a chance!

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  14. Super review, Alexa :) I'm not into contemporary reads all that often, but this sounds pretty wonderful.

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    1. Thank you! I used to be less of a contemporary reader, but with books like this and Just One Day, I'm starting to LOVE this genre.

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  15. I've seen so many great reviews for this one - and it seems like it's resonated with people on a really personal level and that's something I really love hearing about a book. I haven't read anything by Jessi Kirby yet, so I definitely think this one will have to be my first!

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  16. Of all your reviews, I think that this one is my favorite. I was never like Parker in school, basically I did not have any rules except don't get pregnant lololol and I was never under a ton of pressure to be perfect like her. However, like you said, there's something universal in big no point of return decisions and that is where I related to Golden. I love what you said at the end about being satisfied, but also picturing Parker having more adventures and living life, because that's true and i love that she didn't feel flat at all but felt like someone who would live on, long after the book ends.

    Basically I am just in love with this review. The end. <3

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  17. I've been reading a lot of reviews for Golden lately and I'm glad that it's such a great book. I love your review especially the last lines. Beautiful.

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  18. This is such a lovely review! If I haven't already been super excited to read Golden, this review would have helped me realize that I really do need to read it upon its release. I'm also a huge fantasy fan and tend to shy away from contemporaries, but every once in a while a really well-done one finds its way into my hands and I realize that I can love fantasy and still enjoy some contemporary novels. I really love the idea of Parker struggling to find out what she really wants with her life - who can't relate to that? Can't wait to read this myself!

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  19. Such a wonderful review, Alexa! I think that relating to the main character is my main reason for loving contemporaries (hello, Just One Day!) and I can't wait to read about Parker and her journey. It sounds like a beautiful story!

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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