Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Like a Phoenix From the Ashes...

The Key to the Golden Firebird
Maureen Johnson

Release Date:
June 2004
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 6.5/10
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Borders ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Books-A-Million
Content Warning: Discussion of sex

On a perfect spring afternoon, May, Brooks, and Palmer Gold returned home to find an ambulance in front of their house and a swarm of family friends trying to tell them some terrible news. May barely remembers it all. Why would you want to remember every detail of the day your father died right in the garage, sitting behind the wheel of his prized golden Firebird convertible?

A year later, May is still picking up the pieces. Her family is broke, and the house is a wreck. Her older sister Brooks has given up on her main passion, softball, and drinks all the time. Her little sister Palmer is becoming a mute weirdo. And no one is around to teach May to drive, except for her life-long nemesis, Pete. It's like the entire universe is conspiring against her.

The Gold sisters have been changed irrevocably, and they are all but lost to one another, until the key is found. The key to their father's Pontiac Firebird.

(Blurb taken from author website.)

I'm with May. Who wants to remember every detail of the day a parent dies? I certainly don't. But, unlike May, I can't seem to forget. I envy her that.

I really enjoyed this book. I could empathize with the characters, especially May. I, too, lost my father while in high school. Unfortunately, I had already lost my mother at that point in time. I didn't have any siblings either. Maybe they would have made it easier, I don't know. I'll never know.

May reminded me so much of myself it was scary. She's the smart one in the family; so was I. She went numb when she heard The News; I did, too. (Later, that evening, though, when I wasn't babysitting anymore, I fell to pieces.) A year later, she's lashing out at those around her for no real reason. Yeah, I did that. I still do sometimes. (Sorry!)

Would I have enjoyed this book as much as I did if I didn't relate to it? Maybe. Probably. Miss Maureen's writing is brilliant, though not quite on par with her later books. (This was her first published novel, so it's to be expected.) Her characters and plot were believable; they felt real, like friends I'd forgotten I had.

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes young adult novels.


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