Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby


A journey to find a legendary dead girl

No matter how we start, we can never plan what happens in between until the end. – Francine


Click on the image to open the book's Goodreads page

Click on the image to open the book’s Goodreads page

favoriteTitle: Golden
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback
Acquisition: Bought

Purchase at: Amazon

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.


A little comment on my hardback copy of the book: The cover is simply gorgeous, but the rest of the jacket is gold. And it’s the shiny kind of gold. When I was reading, the gold front cover flap kept on glaring at me. And when you remove the jacket, you get a mustard yellow book. And I’m not a big fan of that color. 😛 If you don’t take those into account, this is a gorgeous book. Anyway, moving on…

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver

Golden is an inspiring and perfect book to start a new year. I’ve been hearing so many good things about this book, and I’m so glad that I read it myself. I think the timing was also perfect as most people, like me, think of January or new years as times for change. In the book, the quote from Mary Oliver was an important theme that challenges the characters and even the readers about the lives we all live.

Parker Frost is in her last year of high school. It won’t be long until big things happen for her, and she’ll be gone from the small town she lives in. She’s done nothing but work really hard on her studies and work on getting a scholarship to Stanford. But before that happens, Parker’s best friend, Kat, urges her to experience more of life – to step out of the mold her mother placed on her. Parker will unearth the dark secrets of the golden couple of Summit Lakes, Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz, who died together one unfortunate night, and has been a legend in their small town. She begins to read Julianna’s journal, which was written ten years ago. It reveals a side of Julianna that the town does not know about, and it will make Parker question life and the choices she makes.

Parker Frost has lived all her life trying to fulfill her mother’s goals for her. It was just so much easier to give her mother what she wants. With that, I felt that Parker was a kindred spirit who has been forced to follow all her life. I saw myself in her as she slowly tries to step out of the stronghold her mother has upheld. I don’t always support disrespecting or disobeying parents, but I do believe that we should be able to make our own choices. The results will be ours to reap anyway.

The plot in itself is quite unremarkable, but I did like how the story flowed. I kept running different circumstances in my head, and I was able to guess some of it. Yet I still couldn’t let the book go. I also thought the ending would flop, but it didn’t so I’m quite happy with it. But overall, the gem in this book does not lie in its story, but it lies in the characters and all the little things that make a reader think and feel. I think that Golden is fully able to challenge its readers. When I read this book, I felt the goosebumps rising from my skin with the intensity I underwent in questioning my own experiences and choices. I could reflect on myself through vicariously going through Parker’s story. It talks about how we don’t always have complete control over our lives.

If there’s anything I’m keeping from this book, it would be Mr. Kinny’s school project where he gives each student a journal to contemplate on the Mary Oliver quote and answer it based on how they see themselves in the present and what they are seeing for themselves for the future. I think that this is a helpful tool in assessing one’s self. I also personally like seeing what I write about in the past and see how much I’ve changed. So I’ll be getting a journal and writing about myself. Also, I want to open myself to adventures or occurrences that will force me outside of the box I always cling to.

My only issue about the books is that I find it weird how Julianna’s journal entries could be so detailed to the point that it is told in story form where the people in it even had actual dialogue. As far as I know, Julianna’s not really a writer so why or how would a seventeen-year-old write like that in a journal. It’s not bad. It’s just weird. Also, I find Trevor a little strange for just flirting with Parker for 6 years, and does it like he acts like this with all the girls. I think he should have tried harder and gone with a different approach. Although I’m not really quite sure what goes on in a guy’s mind. Lastly, I didn’t like how Parker got a little too obsessive about Julianna. Anyway, these issues didn’t really faze me that much. This is mostly just an afterthought. I still adore this book.

I didn’t talk about Kat and Trevor much anymore because this review is already too long, but I mostly like these two characters and what they had to bring to the story.

If I’m not mistaken, this is Jessi Kirby’s latest book, but this is the first one I read. After reading Golden, I would definitely want to read all of her other books as well.


OVERALL,  Golden is a book worthy of its title with the level of thought and emotion it evokes. It terrified me to think about the monotony I sometimes live. Parker journeys to a path of discovering herself by first learning about the importance of experiences and choices in life. It consumed me from beginning to end, and it truly inspired me to really think about the present and the future. There were some technical issues with the composition, but I really do love this book for all it has shown me about making choices, taking risks, and embracing change.




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  • This is all based on personal opinion, and as much as I’m open to other people’s opinions, I hope you understand that this is based on what I feel. I avoid giving out spoilers as much as possible, too.
  • I do not own most of the images I use, and some may be subject to editing.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

  1. I’ve heard so many good things about this book. Good to hear that you liked it, and that it corresponds with starting fresh in the new year. Great review, Francine!

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