My Thoughts On: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Posted January 25, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 19 Comments

Golden by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon & Schuster BYR
Publish Date: May 14, 2013
288 Pages
Source: ARC tour

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 lapβ€”one that might be the key to uncovering the truth behind a town tragedy, she decides to take a chance. -(summary from Goodreads)

Golden by Jessi Kirby

My Thoughts:  This is the first time I’ve read any of Jessi Kirby’s work, although I’ve always read glowing things about her work. Verdict: I loved Golden and I’ll definitely be reading the others books when I can get my hands on them.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Parker is feeling the pressure. 
17-year-old Parker is at the top of her graduating class. She’s the finalist for the prestigious Cruz-Farnetti Scholarship (which she desperately needs) and her mother is pressuring her like crazy to do things her way. The problem is this: as her remaining high school days tick by, Parker isn’t so sure she wants to do things her mother’s way. Maybe she wants to make some of her own decisions and decide let Parker decide what Parker wants to do with her life. (Yeah! Way to go, Parker!)   

There are other pressures, too. Parker is what we tend to call a ‘goody-two-shoes’ – she always goes by the rules. She never breaks them. She never pushes the envelope. She never stays out late, never breaks curfew, never skips class, never flirts too heavily, never does anything outside of her perfectly planned-out life. Parker is a little afraid that one little slip-up will send all of her hard work down the drain, and certainly there is some risk to that. Deeper down, though, down in her heart of hearts – what exactly is Parker so afraid of? Is she afraid of getting her heart broken? Or is she afraid of failure? 

Parker’s best friend, the fun-loving Kat, is always trying to get her to loosen up a little bit. After all, if she doesn’t live a little bit now, when will she? Before long, Parker will be gone off to college, all grown up, and she’ll have lost her chance to enjoy this precious time in her life. She’ll have lost her chance with Trever Collins. And she won’t live anywhere close to Kat anymore, because they both know that Kat is not headed down the same path that Parker is…

The clock is ticking if Parker wants to seize the day before she graduates.

The second thing you need to know is this:
Parker finds something special.

Parker assists Mr. Kinney, one of the best English teachers ever. Mr. Kinney gives all of his seniors a notebook with a special assignment: fill it up with honest answers to a question and hand it back in to him after the assignment is completed. Then, after ten years, Mr. Kinney mails the notebook back to them so they can read their previous answers and see the life they had imagined for themselves ten years earlier. The question is this:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

One of Parker’s jobs as TA is to search for current addresses and mail these notebooks back to their previous owners. During this task, Parker comes across the sealed notebook of Julianna Farnetti, after whom one-half of the above-mentioned scholarship is named. Julianna and her boyfriend disappeared shortly after graduation ten years ago, and they were never found. Parker has a decision to make regarding this notebook – Should she 
track down Julianna Farnetti’s family and give them the notebook with Julianna’s private thoughts? Should she give it back to Mr. Kinney? Should she read it? YES! Yes, she decides to read it.

Parker cannot believe the story that unfolds in the pages of Julianna Farnetti’s journal. 

The third thing you need to know is this:

Parker takes a chance! She does. 
Parker Frost decides to take a chance. And one chance leads to another chance. And before long, Parker’s life is snowballing with these crazy decisions! Soon, she’s involving her best friend Kat and Trevor Collins, her maybe/maybe-not crush (Parker, take this chance too! Take. It.). There are last minute decisions and bags packed haphazardly and road trips and all sorts of crazy-fun, spur-of-the-moment things. Parker Frost crams a bunch of “taking chances” into a relatively short amount of time, and it is a HUGE risk. And it is good for her. Right? 


Oh my gosh, this book. 

Golden by Jessi Kirby was like the warm, Southern sunshine in the springtime. It was not too much and it was not too little. It was the perfect amount of everything. I was reading this book and I didn’t want to move an inch until I was finished with the story. I wanted to soak every bit in. And THAT is exactly how I feel everytime I sit in the Southern sunshine in the springtime.

These characters – Parker, Kat, Trevor, Julianna, and the rest of them – are expertly written. They’re developed and fleshy. They leap right off of these pages and into your head and your heart. They’re easy to connect with and visualize. Parker Frost is the student that we’ve either been or we know: she’s lived her life always pleasing other people but never herself. Every one of them have all of these great things about them, but they all have these little quirks or issues, which make them so real.

Parker’s ongoing struggle with the pressures of balancing high school with life outside of high school struck such a chord with me. Kirby did such a great job painting a picture of her struggle with wavering back-and-forth between staying with her regimented, routined life and living outside the lines a little bit. When the journal came into the picture, it was so much fun to watch Parker privately begin to rebel – she would read the journal for a few minutes here and there when she should be studying or writing essays (because her mother told her to), but no one would know. No one. Her mother was none the wiser because Parker had always studied and followed the rules before. As Parker became more comfortable with making these tiny decisions for herself, her periods of reading rebelling grew longer and longer until she was suddenly making these impulsive life-changing seize-the-day decisions. It was total coming-of-age, and reading it was totally just like being that age again. It was an absolute joy to read. I hope that readers can really tune into this part of the book because I think that was a huge moment for Parker – learning that part of independence privately, and then going public with it. 

Oh, and the journal! What a fantastic element to weave into the story. Of course – of course – Parker reads the journal. Of course there is information overload because those are Julianna’s private thoughts (Julianna never intended for anyone else to see them!) and of course Parker doesn’t really know if she can just keep this information to herself. See, the journal has a bit of a mystery in its pages. Parker kind of/maybe/sort of is thinking on trying to solve it…

The mystery element that Jessi Kirby weaves into Parker’s story line is this wonderfully gentle and yet complex story-within-a-story. I fell so hard for it, and I think I’ll just leave it at that. Not knowing anything about it makes it so much better when you unravel each little layer of information. (I love the direction that the journal took the story. LOVE IT so much. Like, hug the book, love it.)

There is a romance element to this book, and while it isn’t necessarily subtle, it isn’t the driving force of this contemporary story. Parker has to decide if she wants to take a chance on this boy that has been flirting with her for a while. She has to come to terms with the fact that she’s had a crush on him, too. There is another romance story line that is – I dare say – swoony and very sweet. The thing about these romances that is so great is that they do not overshadow the other story lines in the book at all. They’re there, hovering in the story, but they let Parker and the other parts of the story take the center stage, and I think that is great. 

If this blog post is sort of vague, I sincerely apologize. Sometimes I have a hard time finding adequate words to talk about the why of loving a book so much – I can only tell you that I did, and that it is wonderful, and that I don’t want to spoil it for you. This is a really great coming-of-age contemporary with a mystery element folded in ever-so-gently, and the romances are gentle as well. That’s all I really know to say. To some, just the name Jessi Kirby is enough – they will instantly read. To others, I say read this book because I think you’ll really like it. 

I recommend Golden by Jessi Kirby to fans of YA contemporaries, fans of mystery, and fans of Jessi Kirby’s work. 


Golden will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Mystery
Romance: No triangle, Slowly developing relationship,
First love (There’s also a second romance!)
Fantastic Characterization

Golden by Jessi Kirby
will be available for purchase on May 14, 2013.

*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. 

Is GOLDEN on your wish-list?

Have you read any of Jessi Kirby’s other work?
If so, tell me about it! 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


19 responses to “My Thoughts On: Golden by Jessi Kirby

  1. Oh my goodness! You've made me EXTREMELY excited to read this book, because seriously, it sounds AMAZING. I've read (and loved) In Honor; there's just something beautiful and moving about the way Jessi writes. I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

  2. Oh, I REALLY loved this book too, ash! The story within the story, the gorgeous poetry interspersed (I am such a Robert Frost fan), the mystery, the coming of age story. It was PERFECT.

    I think of the two stories I actually loved Julianna's more than Parkers! But I love how they intertwined too:) I loved how the idea of fate and destiny and kismet were all focused on in the book. Such an amazing book! I can't wait for it to release in May so everyone else gets to read it too:)

    Beautiful review!

    • I agree with you about Julianna's story. It's so well-written, with all of the details that keep unfolding. And yes, how it intertwined with Parker's – the imagination it takes to come up with such a beautiful and perfect story like this one is just beyond me! I loved how Parker was such a REAL person to me and GAHHH I want everyone to read it and love it as much as we do!

    • This is such a great book! I think that you would like it in particular because while the romances are present, they aren't the biggest themes of the book. This one totally makes me want to grab the previous two books by this author like RIGHT NOW.

  3. This sounds AMAZING. Of Jessi's books, I've only read In Honor, and after having really enjoyed it, I'm SO very excited for Golden. Plus, I love the sound of the mystery element! Givemegivemegiveme! Also: There are last minute decisions and bags packed haphazardly and road trips and all sorts of crazy-fun, spur-of-the-moment things. Road trips? πŸ˜€

    Glad you loved Golden and that your now a new fan of Jessi's work! Great review, Ash!

    • Hey Rebecca! Of her books, In Honor is the one I want to read next. I hear all about that one. I do have Moonglass on my shelves, though, so I'll probably end up starting with that one. Who knows, maybe she'll show up in my Contemporary Month this year. πŸ™‚

      Yes! It seems like there are SO many more contemp authors than I could have ever imagined. I'm so glad for the opportunity to have borrowed this one and when you get to read this one, it is a Rebecca book for sure. You'll love it. πŸ™‚

  4. Oh jeepers. Now I have to wait until May?! πŸ˜‰ I haven't read Moonglass or In Honor (though all three books are on my to-read list!). I'm really excited about this since it sounds right up my alley. But that element with the journal? That sounds fan-freaking-tastic! I completely know what you mean about not being able to say what you want to say about a book when you just loved it so much, but I think you did a pretty great job of saying some intriguing things about Golden regardless. Great review, Asheley!

    • Yes! This is a super early review, I know, but I didn't want to wait to post it. I've been wanting to read something by this author for ages, but for some reason, the timing never worked out. I even have one of her books on my shelves! FOR SHAME, ASHELEY. If this book is any indication at all of the other two, I will be loving them all. I know you'll love this one because it seems like something you'd fall hard for just like I did. Sounds like we both need to get our hands on the others too. πŸ™‚

  5. Asheley I love you. No, seriously. I was a bit on the fence about Golden but 2 paragraphs in and you have convinced me I need to read it. I love the idea of notebooks and answers and questions. I love that she reads the notebook. I love roadtrips. I love slow relationships. Basically your review ha spoken to me on a deeper level and I am going to go request this on Edelweiss.

    • You know, April, the way this book is written is just SO GOOD. There are layers upon layers of just goodness, but without it being too bogged down or too clunky. It's one that you can pick up and enjoy the heck out of it because the characters are so REAL and then the journal aspect brings so much MORE to the story on top of all of it. And the romance is nice but not too much. It's like if you extend your arms, it's there at your fingertips while the main storyline is closer to you. I mean, you want to keep this story close to your heart. PLUS PLUS PLUS there are little bits of Robert Frost sprinkled throughout, which I didn't even mention but I thought you'd appreciate.

      I hope Edelweiss gives you the green light so you can read it and review it and spread the word even farther. GO GO GO GO !!!

  6. Oh dear, I knew NOTHING about this book until I read this review, and now I'm pretty sure that this book was written for me…you see I was the valedictorian of my class (it was a SMALL private school, so don't get too excited). And I recited "the road not taken" as part of my speech. YES, the absolute cheesiest thing you can do! I was also pretty much a good girl, and I wrote a letter to myself in English class that was delivered to me years later.

    I like that this story explores the period right at the end of high school, when you realize that your life is about to change, and you need to figure out how to live it for yourself. Everything about this story sounds fantastic! I will definitely put it on my TBR.

    • Oh, it DOES sound like you'll like this book. Even more than what you mention is that story-within-a-story that gives this one so much extra depth. I think you'll love Golden because you can relate to it on one level, but on another level you'll just appreciate the amazingness of that journal and what it adds. Make sure to request it from your library and be near the top of the list if you can!


    1. I think I will identify a lot with Parker, and I love reading about characters like her. Sometimes YA heroines are really rebellious or have lots of issue, and that makes for interesting reading and everything but sometimes I just want a rule follower. So I'm really looking forward to meeting her!

    2. That question about the one wild and precious life is from a Mary Oliver poem called The Summer Day. I love the quote so much – I actually got a beautiful print of it from my parents for my birthday this year πŸ™‚

    3. I'm ALL OVER a book that earns a comparison to "warm, Southern sunshine in the springtime." GIVE ME THAT RIGHT NOW.

    • 1. You will love Parker Frost. You will.
      2. I LOVE that you just know that.
      3. When you read this book, you will feel the same way. Plus look at the cover. When this book comes out, go sit outside and read it. DO IT. And then tell me how exactly right I am.

      This book is one that I want to PUSH ON PEOPLE forcefully. But I won't have to because the story will do that itself.

  8. I agree, the parts about Parker's struggle with her mother, and trying to figure out her schoolwork and her life were extremely well done. I love this review, Asheley, it's so much more thorough and informative than mine, hah! I loved this book too, though; like you, this was my first Jessi Kirby book. But it won't be my last. πŸ™‚

  9. Zoe

    WOW! I just finished reading Golden as well, and your review definitely hits the spot Ashley! I can’t tell you how perfect this review is and how much I completely agree with it! So glad you liked it too! Looking forward to reading more of your reviews! πŸ˜€


  10. There's so much about this book that I could ramble on about incoherently for pages, tears running down my face but instead I'll just say…read it. Read it, learn from it, cry, laugh but above all hope. Hope for love, life, friends and take away from it a lesson more precious than all the others…It's just one life we get so let's go live it.

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