Golden by Jessi Kirby
Published: May 14, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Julianna Farnetti had the kind of relationship depicted in romance novels, the kind of love that all teenage girls dream of finding for themselves someday. She and her boyfriend, Shane Cruz, are the golden couple of their small town, their future all mapped out before them. When she and Shane are killed in a car accident their senior year of high school they become almost mythical figures, larger than life.
Parker Frost is the girl who plays it safe. Ever since her poet father left her business-minded mother, Parker has felt pressured to tramp down that side of herself and succeed, which means good grades, perfect attendance, and extracurriculars galore so that she can get into Stanford. Her best friend (and my new fictional bestie) Kat warns Parker that she's missing out on a lot of things that make life interesting and makes Parker promise to do one unexpected thing before graduation.
When Parker stumbles upon Julianna's senior year English project, a diary she kept that was meant to capture candidly who she was at 17 and who she aspired to be, and, against her own nature, begins reading it, Parker is launched into the middle of a life very different from her own, and a 10 year old mystery. Was Julianna Farnetti the golden girl everybody thought she was?
This book has a perfect blend of romance, mystery, adventure and angst, and Julianna's story is intense and completely engrossing. I had a hard time putting this book down, and got a little mad every time I got interrupted. I loved this book so much, and unraveling this mystery with Parker and watching her (tentatively) step out of her shell and become more confidant in herself was amazing.
I also loved the incredibly realistic relationship between Parker and Kat. I hate reading a novel where the 'best friend' is just a prop but Kat felt like an actual, three-dimensional person to me, and her encouragement, support, and frustrations made me love her that much more. She urges Parker to try new things, supports her in her college dreams, and nudges her in the direction of the boy Parker's been crushing on since the 7th grade (Trevor Collins....just....sigh....) Kat is fantastic.
If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, or if you remember what it was like to be 17 you should definitely check out this book. LOVE.