From the opening: . . . our worlds are sometimes balanced on choices we make and the secrets we keep.
Parker Frost is 17-years-old, a girl who has always done what was expected of her and at the beginning of this novel, it is all starting to pay off. She has been chosen as a finalist for the Cruz-Farnetti scholarship, which will give her a free ride to the Stanford pre-med program. Her father, a writer and professor, has always insisted that they are distant relatives of Robert Frost, and excerpts of his poetry appear throughout the novel. Her mother, disappointed in her own life, has been the main force in Parker's life so far. She wants her daughter to make better, more logical, choices than she herself made, and she takes no pains to hide her disappointment whenever she feels Parker isn't measuring up.
The Cruz-Farnetti scholarship was founded after the death of a "golden couple" - Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz - in a car accident ten years before. Although their bodies were never found, the Jeep they were in was found half-submerged and they are presumed dead.
Parker works a teaching assistant for a well-liked teacher named Mr. Kinney. One of Mr. Kinney's senior projects calls for the students to keep a journal of their life, hopes, and ambitions, and hand it in to him at the end of the year. He then seals the unread journals to send back to the students ten years later.
When Parker goes through the lot of journals to be sent back this year, she comes across Julianna's journal. Against her normal nature, she decides to keep the journal for a while and to read it herself. As she reads, she comes across quite a few surprises. Her friend Kat has been urging her to do "something bold" just once before she goes off to college, and the journal provides the impetus for her. When she finally shares the journal with Kat, they both decide to find answers. When Kat shares the discovery with Trevor, the boy who has had a crush on Kat since forever, all three find themselves on a road trip that may change not only their own destinies, but others as well.
I don't know how to sum up this story. The synopsis does not do it justice, although the title does. This book IS golden - it shimmers with emotion, and hopes, and longings. As I opened the pages and began reading, I was totally immersed in Parker's story. She is a reflection of all of us who strived to do our best to succeed in high school and beyond. She's like all soon-to-be-adults - seeking and questioning and wondering. Coupled with Julianna's tragic story, the reader is rooting and hoping and sometimes even finding a tear or two rolling down as they continue to read. I'm not a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, but this story pulled those kinds of emotional heartstrings without being overly dramatic or sentimental.
This is a perfect read for any age. I believe it's billed as "New Adult", but this older adult loved it. An emotional, heart-tugging read with a bit of mystery and romance. Highly recommended.
Kat will end up staying here because the mess that is her mom will make her feel like she has to. Where my mom drives me insane with her never-ending sermons on how important it is that I achieve more and do better than she did, Kat's seems to wonder why her daughter should ever want or deserve anything beyond a job that barely pays the bills, an endless string of guys she hopes will, and the resulting need to find comfort in a bottle when they don't.
She meant I should do something unexpected that would leave me with something I could keep and remember. An experience instead of a goal. And I get what she means. She's right about me not having very many of those to show for four years of high school. But it seems to me that the experiences that stay with you, the things you'll always remember, aren't the ones you can force, or go looking for. I've always thought of those things as the ones that somehow find you.
True love, meant to be, fate, destiny, serendipity, kismet. They're all his romantic words. Words saved for movies and books and fiction. Not for real life. In real life parents get divorced and people live unfulfilled lives and love goes unrequited and there are no second chances or do-overs or perfect moments.
BLOGGERS: Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.
Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Characters: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars
BOOK RATING: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Sensitive Reader: Some profanity, an F-bomb dropped here and there.
Book Club Recommendation: Yes.show more
by Julie Smith