Readers, you know how sometimes there are books that are absolutely perfect for a certain season? Like, books that just scream I AM SUMMER, READ ME? Well, I thought that Golden by Jessi Kirby is an utterly perfect spring book. Especially as, much like spring in upstate NY, there is snow when there should be sun and rain. Kirby’s latest book is a beautifully written story that examines the myth and legend of a person versus their reality. It’s succinct but contains a nice amount of depth without being overwhelming or too terribly heavy.
On the verge of graduation, Parker Frost is up for the prestigious Cruz-Farnetti scholarship which will pay for her entire Stanford tuition. Named for two teenagers who disappeared in a horrific car accident when Parker was a little kid, the Cruz-Farnetti scholarship is awarded at a dinner where contestants must make a speech every year. Parker is valedictorian of her class and should be a shoo in for the scholarship. Yet, she finds that many things are getting in the way of her speech writing. You see, when Parker looks back at her high school career she sees all kinds of awards and achievements, but she doesn’t see any risk taking. So, her best friend urges her to do something totally wild and out of the ordinary before their high school days end. Which brings me to the something wild. Parker’s a TA for one of those Dead Poet Society type of English teachers. Part of her duties are to mail out these journals to alumni who wrote down their hopes and dreams and really encapsulated who they were as seniors. What Parker finds in the batch is Julia Farnetti’s journal and she becomes obsessed. And really, I can’t tell you more than that because it would totally give spoilers for Golden and trust, you want an open mind going in.
I think that we’ve all read about characters like Parker Frost before. We’ve all experienced the tightly-wound, overachiever. We all have come across books about the girl who doesn’t take risks because she’s got so much pressure to be the best and be perfect. To me, there’s nothing wrong with well worn tropes so long as the author provides a unique spin and writes well enough that it seems like we’re treading new ground. Also, likability is important to me, as a reader. Thankfully, I actually sympathized with Parker even though her childhood and life experience is vastly different from mine. Jessi Kirby did a great job of illustrating Parker’s coming of age and character shift. There’s a moment where you can kind of see Parker change from this girl who meekly does whatever her mom asks of her to someone who wants to forge her own path in life. I love that Parker does not start out fiercely independent. I like that she’s given room to grow within the space of 288 pages. Further, her character growth and catalyst felt quite realistic to me.
Stylistically, I think that Golden does a wonderful job exploring the theme of myth versus reality. For one, there’s the use of Julia Farnetti’s journal where we see that she is not exactly the golden child that the town painted her to be. There’s this whole legend that surrounded Julia and her boyfriend Shane Cruz when they got into their car accident and ‘disappeared’. Yet, as we all know reality rarely matches the history the town has given the two. The contrast between journal Julia and billboard Julia is awesome. Like, if you’re into cool literary things like themes and motifs, you’ll dig that bit of Jessi Kirby’s new book. We also see this theme when it comes to Parker’s dad who got divorced from her mother. And again, with Parker’s love interest Travis.
Holla if you like books with ROMANCE and KISSING. Duh, you are reading my blog so I bet you are down with the kissy-times, as that’s half of what I usually talk about in EVERY REVIEW EVER. So, Golden has got you covered when it comes to romance. Seriously, I ship Parker and Travis so hard. Travis is this boy in Parker’s class who she has always had a crush on. Only, she’d never let herself take the risk with him because he has a reputation. Anyways, there’s all kinds of TENSION between them. And BANTER. And MEANINGFUL GLANCES. Basically, I just ate their whole romance up and enjoyed the whole ride. For reals, it’s so adorable and I couldn’t help but be like ‘kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss’ in my head. Trust. You’ll likely feel the same.
After finishing Golden, I realized that I am totally missing out on not having read In Honor yet, as Kirby really wowed me with both this book AND Moonglass. Golden is not a book that should be missed by contemporary fans, especially if you like your books short but packed with excellent writing, strong characters, kissing and deeper meaning. Before you hit up various graduation parties and start your BBQ-ing, be sure to get your hands on Jessi Kirby’s Golden, it will certainly help set the mood for the season.
Disclosure: Received for review via Edelweiss
Other reviews of Golden by Jessi Kirby:
Into The Hall Of Books – “I dare say – swoony and very sweet” (FYI, this is the review that convinced me to request the book)
Rather Be Reading – “a lovely breakthrough in her talent”
Chick Loves Lit – “she has started to truly master her craft”
Books by Jessi Kirby: