Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on May 14, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Mystery
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.
Can you love a book if you don’t love the main characters? This was my main problem with Golden. Parker was just not that interesting and came across as quite bland. Yes, she’s a “good girl,” but where was her personality? Her most notable characteristic is her desire to solve the mystery of Julianna and Shane. On the other hand, her best friend, Kat, has all of the cliched characteristics of the snarky best friend. And then there’s Parker’s crush, Trevor. I liked him well enough, but I don’t know if he was necessary to the story, beyond, “Oh, hey, Parker needs a love interest.” This was ultimately a journey of self-discovery, and I don’t think a guy is ALWAYS necessary for that process. Just sayin’.
The mystery element was fun. At times, it overshadowed Parker’s story, but it held my interest, so I don’t think that’s necessarily a flaw. The outcomes of both Julianna’s and Shane’s story, and of Parker’s own story, were not terribly surprising, but they were still quite moving.
Note – I was provided with an ARC by the publisher for review.
Review posted at Goodreads.