Book Cover for Golden by Jessi Kirby

Magan: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Book Cover for Golden by Jessi KirbyGolden by Jessi Kirby {website | twitter}
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: murder mystery, college decisions, road trip, overbearing mother
Format read: ARC received from Simon & Schuster (Thank you!)

Summary: As Parker is about to embark upon her high school graduation, she comes across the journal of a girl who died ten years prior. She steals the journal and begins to read it. Little does she know the journal will lead her to try to solve the mystery of Julianna’s death and re-evaluate where her life is taking her.

You know that feeling when you love an author and you’re super excited for his/her next release… Then you’re completely blown away because this book … THIS BOOK trumps all the others? And you finish it with a happy, goofy smile on your face, but your heart is heavy because you’re sad it’s over?

That’s how I felt after reading Jessi Kirby’s upcoming release, Golden.

As a teacher’s assistant for Mr. Kinney at her high school, Parker is in charge of mailing senior composition books to former students for their ten-year graduation anniversary; these books were their final project in Mr. Kinney’s class, meant to make them reflect on their lives and what they hoped to accomplish. As she’s monotonously looking up addresses, she freezes when she comes across a particular journal. Julianna is a girl who died ten years ago in a freak snowstorm with her boyfriend, Shane. There’s a lot of mystery about what really happened to Julianna and Shane because their bodies were never recovered, but the town continues to honor them and their parents provide a scholarship each year in their memory. Curiosity overtakes Parker, and though she knows she had no business doing so, she takes Julianna’s journal and begins to read it. She becomes absorbed in their story and seeks answers to the unsolved mystery.

She keeps this secret to herself because she’s guilt-ridden over what she’s done. Parker is a girl who never, ever does anything wrong. She’s a good student with a very clear path in life. Her mother is very hard on her and though Parker will graduate soon, she’s treated like an immature teenager. She’s not a crazy party girl and her best friend, Kat, is constantly encouraging her to do something more adventurous. Never would Parker have guessed where swiping Julianna’s journal would lead her.

Parker keeps replaying Mr. Kinney’s question (originally a quote by Mary Oliver) posed to Julianna in her first entry, “So tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” She reflects on this as she’s writing the speech for the scholarship she’ll need to attend Stanford. Is she doing what she really wants? Just when she’s on the brink of making a life-changing decision (college, what she’ll major in), there’s nervousness and fear about what she’s supposed to do and who she’s supposed to be. She wants to look back at her decisions and know she made the right ones. Many people, of all ages, can relate to Kirby’s message:

Are we just letting life pass us by?
What will our legacy be?

Mary Oliver’s quote is one I see every morning when I walk out of my bedroom. I mull over this question so frequently. In the grand scheme of my life, what do I want to do? Who do I want to be? Here’s the print by Katie Daisy that I have hanging:

mary oliver wild and precious life quote

Because everything flowed so well from the very beginning, Jessi Kirby’s Golden immediately pulled me in and grabbed my attention. I connected to Parker’s goal-oriented, driven character who wasn’t too uptight or hard to relate to. Kat was the kind of lifelong best friend I want for myself — someone who pushes me not to settle for monotony and refuses to let me fall prey to someone else’s demands. Trevor was the best kind of guy with tons of mystery, loads of snark and snappy comebacks, and a heart of gold. The mystery kept me buzzing through the pages, and the final message still rings true to me at 27 years of age. Oh, and there was just enough balance with family background and secondary characters to make me feel like I understood Parker’s life in her small California town.

This might sound strange coming from a little ol’ blogger, but after I finished Golden I felt so proud of Jessi Kirby. There was noticeable strength and growth in her writing. I’ve always, always been a fan of hers, but this book made me want to give her a big hug and celebrate what I feel is a lovely breakthrough in her talent. If I wasn’t already crazy excited for more of Jessi’s work in the future, now I’m just downright overjoyed to read whatever she comes up with next.

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24 thoughts on “Magan: Golden by Jessi Kirby

  1. Maggie @ Young Adult Anonymous says:

    This is so exciting because Jessi Kirby is one of those authors you WANT to support. I met her twice and she has such an infectious spirit and energy. I ended up buying 5+ copies of In Honor to send out. I can’t wait to read Golden. Great review, Magan. Love the print!

  2. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Oh this book! I still have moments where I find myself randomly thinking about it. I am so thankful we read this one together back to back. I needed someone to pour my heart out to as I fell in love with it, and you complimented that nicely 🙂

    I have the same pride for Jessi after reading this book, too. Her work has always been one of my favorites, but this book just put it over the edge. What a wonderful lady to write such a beautiful story.

  3. Sharon @ The Book Barbies says:

    I am so, so excited for this one! I can’t believe it was even better than In Honor, for you! Quite the feat, because that was a great book. Now I’m even more intrigued. Parker sounds like the kind of character I will connect to, as well. Great review, Magan!

  4. Tabitha S. says:

    You have me so excited to read this book! Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to read it before, but now I feel like I NEED to read it. And I actually haven’t read anything by this author before, so I’ll definitely be doing that so I can see her growth as a writer!

    Great review.

  5. Alexa Y. says:

    For weeks after I finished this book, I couldn’t find the words to express how I felt about it. I loved it oh so much – it’s now officially my favorite Jessi Kirby novel. I found Parker to be easy to relate to, and the story very compelling indeed. SO BEAUTIFUL.

    • Magan says:

      Alexa — I completely agree. It’s been almost 2 months since I finished Golden and just like you, have had a hard time compiling my words for the review. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to express my love adequately enough. I didn’t even post a chunk of my review because I was getting too wordy. Ha! So glad you loved it too! xo

      Maggie — OH MY GOSH! So glad you love Katie Daisy’s things too. Aren’t they fabulous? I follow her on instagram and it’s amazing to see what she does. She has pillows at Crate & Barrel Kids, I think, and oh man do I want them. So what if I’m not a “kid”.

      Tabitha — I am so, so glad! You do NEED to read it. Especially if this would be your first Kirby book. Not to peer pressure you or anything… oh, who am I kidding… totally pressuring you. PLEASE READ ALL OF HER BOOKS!

      Sharon — I did enjoy it more than In Honor. I just feel like maybe Jessi wrote more personally this time. I’m not sure — it just really struck a different chord with me and I love what she did and where she went. Please read this ASAP. K, thanks.

      Ginger — I’m so glad we read this at the same time, too. It was awesome to see how you and I connected with the story. I just am so happy for Jessi and the way I think people are going to embrace Golden. SO GOOD. And yes, you’re right — a beautiful story!

      YAA Maggie — YES! I agree! I met Jessi at TLA last year and she’s the kindest, nicest person. Such a sweetheart. I can’t wait for you to read Golden either. If you loved In Honor, I’m POSITIVE you’re going to want to buy a million copies to give to friends! xo

  6. Rashika says:

    I have this waiting and I am so excited.
    I’ve read other works by this author and wasn’t that impressed however this one is getting a lot praise and I hope it lives up to it! 🙂

  7. Candice @ The Grown-Up YA says:

    This is such a great review! We were actually talking about this one earlier today and I hadn’t heard of it… but definitely want to read it now! Love the ideas in the plot and think it would be really interesting to see them played out!

    Also, I LOVE picture collage you have! Very cute!

    • Magan says:

      Candice — thanks so much! You HAVE to read it! I really hope you enjoy it! The plot was great and I loved that I couldn’t guess where the story was headed. I felt so invested!

      Rashika — I think the praise is totally and completely worth it. Jessi deserves to be praised with what she did in Golden. I love that I can see her continue to grow in her abilities. Each book just gets better and better, and I think that says a lot about Jessi. She’s working hard to continue improving and fine tune her craft. I really hope you enjoy Golden!

  8. Lily says:

    I loved in Honour so you can only imagine just how excited i am to read this one! I lvoe your thoughts on this book and am so happy you liked it! Only makes me want to read it even more now! 🙂

    Lily @ lilysbookblog

    • Magan says:

      Lily — Oh, I can’t wait for you to read it! If you’re already a fan of Jessi’s, you’re just going to love where she goes with Golden! Enjoy!

      Cassie — I’m so glad you’re excited! Major kudos, of course, to Jessi for stretching herself as a writer. I love, love, love that about her!

      Lori — I completely agree. 10000%.

      Mandee — Yeah, the whole mystery thing is kind of downplayed in the summaries, but it’s a lovely part of the book. Most intriguing for sure! I hope you pack an extra suitcase just for the books you buy while in the US! 🙂

      Tara — YES! A book every week would be awesome. And for sure Jessi is an auto-buy for me as well. (That list seems to be growing exponentially lately.) You should give in and buy the print! It’s so awesome to see every day.

      Asheley! You haven’t read Jessi’s other books? GIRL! HOP ON IT! Pronto! I’m so glad you loved Golden too. I just don’t know what one could possibly find wrong with this book. I loved it soooo much. And yes, love like springtime. 🙂

  9. VeganYANerds says:

    I had no idea there was an aspect of mystery to this story and now I am so keen to read it! It’s on my “buy-while-in-the-USA” shelf, May cannot come soon enough!

    Also, now you have me thinking about life and about how I should be doing more, more, MORE!

  10. Tara says:

    This book had such a personal effect on me that I will always think back to it. I completely agree that Jessi Kirby’s writing continues to grow and become even more emotional and heartfelt. She will always be on my auto-buy list from here on out… now if only she could be super-human and write a book like, every week 🙂

    PS-I love that print on your wall! So many people have it and every time I see it I want to buy it.

  11. Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) says:

    OH THIS BOOK. I read it a while back borrowed and I still think about it, even though I read it and reviewed it SO EARLY. I love that you have the print with THE QUOTE! And I loved the story within the story. I basically loved everything about this book. I said something in my blog post about how it reminded me about a warm spring day because really, I loved it like I love the springtime. I totally understand feeling proud of Jessi Kirby for this book because it’s one of those that you really want to push into the hands of people, even if they aren’t avid readers or even if they don’t love contemporary. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a super long time, and I’m so happy that you like it a lot, M! So glad. I haven’t read other Kirby books but I seriously need to fix that problem like yesterday.

  12. Andrea @Cozy Up With A Good Read says:

    I am even more interested in this book now. I don’t really know what I thought this book was about it but it definitely wasn’t that! I guess I was thinking it was more contemporary. I love mystery books like this and I am so excited to read this one now. Thanks for the review!

  13. Zoe N. says:

    WOW! I just finished reading Golden as well, and your review definitely hits the spot Megan! 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! 😀

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