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.
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way. Thanks S&S, I love you, too.
Honestly, I’m finding it difficult to review this book. I went into this novel with absolutely no expectations, but with a faint hope that I’d be able to finally find a gem deserving of 5 stars, a hope that would quench my thirst for a masterpiece. That was, fortunately, answered. I turned the last page of Golden with feelings so conflicted, but also satisfied, as I’ve found a tale so inspiring, compelling, and lastly, so relatable. It spoke to my heart like no other, and touched on a sensitive side of me that I have oftentimes tried to avoid. I’m truthfully at a loss for words as it hit home… very hard.
Golden, like many of its peers, is a tale of finding oneself and realizing one’s worth. It’s a story where a lone, troubled, and struggling teenager tries to find her place in a world full of expectations and pressures. Parker Frost has worked her way to the top in order to get her mother’s approval, a lonely journey in which she forced herself into a tight cocoon, isolating herself from activities that she thought would stray her from her intended path. While this gave her the momentary pleasure of getting her mom’s smile and encouragement, it also didn’t give her much opportunities to have fun and experience new things. But finding Juliana Foretti’s journal, a woman who was killed in a tragic crash ten years ago, opened a door for her that was too hard to resist. Was this fate? Was this chance? Was she willing to risk it?
One of the factors that made this book so genuine and real was the voice of the narrator. The writing, the narration, all of it was just absolutely sublime, effortless, and real. It’s the kind of prose that can easily be compared to the ones like Emily Murdoch’s, who doesn’t reach out to the readers by playing with words, but by playing with feelings, thoughts, emotions so deep and raw that they just pierce right through you. It’s just so beautiful that I can’t even begin to describe it. One thing for sure, though, is that it spoke volumes to me; I read it page by page and absolutely felt that the book was speaking to me. It made me feel so connected to the characters, to the scenes, to the losses of life, to everything… without even trying. It just… does.
But the best factor of all… the subject matter. The story, overall. The way the mysterious tragedy of a certain character, and a stranger at that, became interconnected with the concepts of chance, risk, and fate. How actions affect all of us in this complex, yet familiar circle of life. I know, I know; I may be spouting big words and deep sentences that may already sound borderline disjointed, but… it is what it is. A tale of so many tales, of so many stories, linked by fate and by chance, written so convincingly, compellingly, hauntingly, mystifyingly. There are no other ways to describe it, you simply need to read it for yourself to get the same experience.
It spoke so much to me because in a way, I’m conflicted with a similar problem. To go or not to go? To stay in my comfort zone or experience new things? Needless to say, I think this book shedded light on this particular conflict, and pushed me towards a path… a path I for so long tried to avoid, but suddenly realized was necessary for my own growth.
Do I recommend this? Highly. If you’re going to the bookstore anytime soon, this is the book you first must buy. Perhaps, like me, it will give you a sort of epiphany, perhaps, it won’t, but whatever may happen when you turn the last page, I’m certain it will transform some part of you for the better.
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