12578313Golden by Jessi Kirby
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).

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. – Goodreads

Review:

This is hands down the perfect contemporary for me. I could have enjoyed a wee bit more romance, but seriously. This is the almost perfect Ashley novel. Parker is what I consider to be a normal teen, although many won’t. She does whatever her mother asks of her, she is valedictorian of her class, she never has that one moment where she seizes the day, even though her best friend Kat NEEDS HER TO SEIZE THE DAY. I went to high school with that girl, heck, I was good friends with that girl, that girl could have been me. (While I wasn’t valedictorian, I was in the honors classes, etc.)

Kat is the perfect yin to Parker’s yang. Parker knows she is going to get out of this teeny tiny town and move on to ‘bigger’ and better things, while Kat knows, and is accepting of the fact, that she is stuck in this town just like her mother was. What this town has is the folklore of the couple a decade earlier. The perfect couple, Barbie and Ken, who proceeded to mysteriously die. While this doesn’t affect Parker at first, it finally does when Parker is helping a teacher with his project and comes upon Julianna’s journal. While Parker knows she shouldn’t, she opens it up and reads it. This step ultimately changes her life.

Along with Kat and the adorable Trevor, Parker takes this quest and ultimately becomes this person that she finally likes. I related so much to Parker’s journey because there were a lot of parallels to my own journey in life. I recently told Tina that for the first time in 25 years, that I can remember, I like who I am. And Tina, being my awesome cheerleader in life, is all GOOD FOR YOU. Because Tina has seen me at my lowest. She is my Kat. She is the one who has made me be a better person because she has gotten emails from me crying, and maybe even a call or two. Not sure about the last one, because calls are so few and far between.  A lot of my friends could be Kat. Kat wants Parker to live for Parker. Not live for Parker’s mom, who is a wee bit bitter at everything.

And she does. Kat makes Parker live. Makes her take that giant leap of faith and jump, and what was nice was Trevor, because Trevor was Trevor and Parker was oblivious, because Trevor couldn’t like her. Right?

This book will not be perfect for everyone, Tina would probably read this and hate her life. It’s contemp. It has a bit of a love story. But for me, this was the perfect end of summer read.