Saturday, April 05, 2014

Golden, by Jessi Kirby

Every year, the seniors in Mr. Kinney's class write a journal in which they describe their hopes for their future, seal their writings in an envelope, and leave it with the teacher.  Ten years later, he returns it to them so they can be reminded of what they thought and felt at that crossroads in their life.  This year, current senior Parker Frost is helping Mr Kinney send these journals back to their owners when she finds the journal of the late Julianna Farnetti.

Julianna and her boyfriend Shawn were the perfect couple - the school's golden pair - when they disappeared into the icy waters of Summit Lake on their graduation day and were lost forever.  Holding the doomed girl's journal, Parker makes a fateful decision to break the seal and learn more about Julianna's last days.  She find more than she bargains for.

A loving tribute to poet Robert Frost as well as a painful and tragic story, this novel pulls all the heartstrings.  The pace occasionally flags, but when Kirby is on a roll, the story hits hard.  There are my usual favorite themes of integenerational miscommunication, learning to make your own future (and breaking free of parental expectations), and the pain of growing up and leaving home, but the stakes are raised in this treatment of them as we see the tragedy of Julianna's disappearance intersect with Parker's own life.

I was less taken with the supporting characters.  Parker's friends (her BFF Kat and her persistent suitor Trevor) left me unmoved.  They seem largely wasted and unnecessary - which is reinforced by the fact that they are conveniently absent during every major scene in the book.

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