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What Danielle Did Next

A YA and NA book review blog

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Golden - Jessi Kirby Tell me, what is it you plan to dowith your one wild and precious life?I knew from page one that this book was a *me* book. A feeling of sweet relief washed over me as I read Kirby's beautiful prose and I knew I was home. I've stepped out of my "box" a lot lately. Reading books that have challenged me, that I've enjoyed, ranted and snarked about, cried and have lost sleep over.It's been a long time since I've read a book that I knew in my heart would change me and stay with me. That I needed to hold in my hands and hug to my chest. I raved to my best friend last night that I found a book that was "so us" and she laughed and nodded her head emphatically in agreement that this was a book written for those of us who dream of taking the risks instead of crossing the line into the unknown.Hope is something I find hard to hold onto sometimes, I retreat into myself and struggle to keep the brave face on straight. In this book, Parker, like me is facing change, being pushed out of her comfort zone and forced to take risks. Golden was like the comforting squeeze from a friend's hand holding mine as I too face challenges and uncertainty right now albeit older than Parker but facing the same terrifying feelings that I'll be left with more regrets and not precious memories. Last night as I wiped the tears from my face and said goodbye to Parker, I felt hopeful that I too would find the courage to do what I wanted with my "one wild and precious life."Parker was without a doubt one of my favourite MC's in a long time.She was real. Remarkable yet normal, beautiful yet ordinary...she's your best friend, she's your sister, she's you.Parker is weeks away from graduating high school and her life has been mapped out for her. Inflated GPA, honour roll, extra curricular activities that are strictly college board approved, curfew that has never been broken, all roads lead to Stanford. When she makes the final cut for a scholarship dedicated to the memory of her town's "Golden Couple" who died tragically years earlier, Parker starts to wonder what their life would have been like if it hadn't been cut short. When the journal of Julianna, one-half of that couple finds its way into Parker's hand, it seems clear that fate is intervening and Parker needs to take stock of her life.I've got this tiny pang of regret when I think of how much I have probably missed out on in the last few years because I was too scared to take a risk, or too shy to speak up, or too worried to be bold. It is my one wild and precious life, after all.One of the things I loved most about this book was how it showed just how little appearances can really be trusted. I regularly have to remind myself when I go on Facebook *NOT* to compare my behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reel. As Parker delves into the final days of Julianna's life unfolding in the pages of her journal, she too realises that even the golden girl has secrets to hide. At times as I read, I didn't know how I wanted the story to reveal itself. I wondered if there would be a level of implausibility that would ultimately ruin a book I felt was fast becoming dear to me but Kirby skilfully created a story with such depth, hope and wonder that it works and my heart pounded as I devoured the words, immersed in both Parker's and Julianna's story within the story. While this is at first glance a sweet, innocent romantic tale that most girls secretly wish could be theirs, at its core there is a message that life is imperfect and no matter how much you will it to be otherwise, it will not remain golden, that events and experience will tarnish it but it's how you respond to the lows that shape you more than the highs.Golden had everything I wanted in a coming of age book. The likeable yet imperfect protagonist, the best friend who...irritated me at times but won me over with her heart of gold. And of course there's the guy...Trevor initially seemed to be lacking depth, a bit one-dimensional but throughout the course of the book grew to be a real friend to Parker, trusting, loyal and subtly swoon inducing which is always a good thing. :)"...You'll say the truest thing you know and that'll be exactly right." I look at him with his wrinkled shorts and morning messy hair, and I swear I fall in love right there. I am in love with what he just said. In that moment, no one could have said anything more right or perfect to me. I could...I could kiss him right there-There's so much about this book that I could ramble on about incoherently for pages, tears running down my face but instead I'll just say...read it. Read it, learn from it, cry, laugh but above all hope. Hope for love, life, friends and take away from it a lesson more precious than all the others...It's just one life we get so let's go live it.