Flashback of the Month I: The Key to the Golden Firebird

I've decided to introduce a new feature: the flashback of the month. I know that I tend to get caught up with anticipation for new releases, and I end up overlooking fantastic books that were written anytime from a few years ago to fifty. So, every month, I'll post a review of a book that isn't receiving a whole lot of attention anymore but still deserves to be read with excitement (and just think about how affordable these are - your library probably has it in stock, and if not, it's already been released in paperback). I'm also welcome to suggestions if there's a book you'd like for me to review for an upcoming month.

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson was an incredible story of love, loss, friendship, and family. The three Gold sisters, Brooks, May, and Palm, have suffered through the loss of their father and have each responded in completely different ways. Johnson focuses on May’s side of the story, but with hers you learn a lot about Brooks, the older sister who has become wild, and Palm, the younger sister who has become a very intense pitcher.

Ever since her father’s death, everything in May’s life seems to be falling apart. And to add to it all, with Brooks’ lack of concern, May is stuck watching over Palmer and caring for her most of the time. So she is dragged into learning to drive, especially with the offer of her neighbor Pete. Meanwhile, their father’s old car, the Golden Firebird sits uselessly in the garage, not touched since he passed away. As to May’s driving, let’s just say she’s not exactly great and she’s overcautious while in the driver’s seat. With Pete’s help, she starts to slowly overcome some of this. At the same time, she’s beginning to realize Pete may not still be the immature, rotten little kid she remembers.

I was blown away with the power of this book. It was not just some story about girls after their father died and how they coped. There was just so much more to the story than that and I don’t really know how to put it. Each sister really came to life with their individual personalities and you couldn’t help but fall for Pete. I thought the ending was perfect and it really brought the entire book to a conclusion, tying all “loose ends” up well. As well, it was well written and simply realistic, with tiny details that people observe but normally don’t bother to write about. If Maureen Johnson were to write another story about the Gold sisters, I’d be sure to read it. I recommend The Key to the Golden Firebird to anyone looking for a truly touching and enjoyable read this summer. 9 out of 10.

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