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.
This was a total impulse request for me, since I hadn't actually been all that interested in it to start with. I have to be in a certain mood to read contemporary books and so Golden has sat unread on my kindle for a few months. When I finally did pick it up, it wasn't the type of book that gripped me to start with and for a few chapters I had to wonder whether it would pick up. I realised that I was gripped about fifty pages in and I hadn't even realised, that is the type of book that Golden is, the type of book which will creep up on you and then suddenly you're gripped and taking the book down to dinner, to the toilet and to the kitchen with you and despite the fact that you have an important exam in two days you stay up until one in the morning to finish the book, savouring every word as you do.
At least, that's my reading experience of Golden. Now I'm not saying that this book is without it's flaws - it seriously isn't - but what I am saying is that everything that this story stands for, everything that means is so well written and beautiful and meaningful that I was willing to overlook it. This book isn't a cushy emotional love story, well not a love story for Parker. Parker does have a love line in this book but it takes a subtle backseat to the more meaningful story - Julianna, Shane and Orion's story. The two stories are interwoven so well that even though we don't really know Julianna, we feel like we do. I loved how Julianna's story from ten years ago makes Parker come to terms with the issues in her own life. this book didn't feel fluffy or pretentious, it felt real.
There were some plotholes, of course. Some I won't mention since they give spoilers, but I honestly don't think that Parker would be stupid enough to go on a road trip and not tell her Mom and not expect the police to be called on her, especially in a town still reeling from the disappearance of two teens ten years ago. As well as that a lot of the explanations given for actions and mysteries seem very basic and I honestly don' believe that ANYONE could believe any of it.
Golden was a great read, though it took some time to get into. Depsite a few plotholes and some cheesy bits, the story was deep and meaningful and will definitely stand out in a crowd of fluffy or pretentious contemporary books.
Overall Rating: A
Book released 14th May 2013 by Simon and Schuster Boks for Young Readers
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (Edelweiss)