KIRBY, Jessi. Golden. 276p. S & S. May 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-52169; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-52251. LC 2012042216.
Gr 8 Up--Parker Frost, 17, is about to graduate high school feeling that all she has to show for it are her grades and being a finalist for a scholarship that will pay for a full ride at Stanford. Her best friend, Kat, her opposite in every way, pushes her to do something out of her comfort zone, but Parker has difficulty challenging her mother's expectations. When an English teacher asks her to help return senior-class journals to students who graduated 10 years earlier, she stumbles across the one written by Julianna Farnetti. Julianna and her boyfriend, Shane Cruz, were the town's golden couple; they were killed in an accident right after graduation, and the grief surrounding their deaths still permeates the small town. Reading the journal is Parker's first act of rebellion, but other small acts follow, including not writing her speech for the scholarship, lying to her mother, ditching class, and making tentative steps toward the boy she's had a crash on for years. The journal leads Parker to discover unexpected truths about Julianna and what happened to her, bringing closure not only to the young woman's story but to Parker's as well. The protagonist is a well-drawn and sympathetic character. Her struggles to find herself will resonate with many teens, and the faltering romance will draw readers in. Sure to be popular.--Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL