Skip to main content

The Key to the Golden Firebird

Review

The Key to the Golden Firebird

It's been a year since the unthinkable happened. On that fateful day, Mike Gold had a fatal heart attack in his beloved 1967 golden Firebird Pontiac. Since they lost their father, the Gold sisters --- May, Brooks and Palmer --- have not been the same. Before, they were typical teenagers who enjoyed carefree summer pranks. Now, their mother is not around as much; she has to work the night shift as a nurse to support the family, and the three sisters are left to fend for themselves.

THE KEY TO THE GOLDEN FIREBIRD tells the stories of three teenage sisters who are all very different, yet they're struggling with the same problem. May Gold, short for Mayzie, is the reliable sister --- she's smart, does well in school, works a part-time job to save money for college, and is expected to keep a watchful eye on her younger sister, Palmer. In a very un-Maylike turn of events, May fails her driver's exam. Pete Camp, the adorable dorky neighbor, volunteers to teach May to drive. During May's summer of driving lessons, she also encounters a bumpy ride of falling in love with someone she knew her whole life.

Brooks Gold is the oldest. As a testament to their father's addiction to baseball, Brooks is named after the famous baseball player Brooks Robinson. Brooks herself is a star softball player, but in the summer after her father's death, she finds herself hanging out with a new wild boyfriend, Dave, and his inner-circle of misfits. When Dave suggests that she quit the team, she comes to a realization.

Brooks thinks, "Her father had put a bat in her hand the minute she was strong enough to hold it up, and that was that. Afternoons and weekends were for playing. She didn't even know what people who didn't play sports did with their time. But she had to admit, she'd seen less and less of a point in playing in the last year." Once off the team, Brooks has more time to drink excessively, come home way too late, and get into trouble.

Palmer Gold, the youngest, is also an amazing softball player. Even though she's only a freshman, she's a pitcher on the varsity softball team. Palmer lives in a world of her own, keeping her problems to herself. She doesn't tell anyone about the panic attacks that keep waking her up in the middle of the night. She also snoops around watching her sisters and rummaging through her mother's closet. During one of her investigations, she finds something she wasn't expecting that will be the key to helping her and her sisters feel better.

Maureen Johnson's first novel tells the touching tale of three sisters' journey as they find a way to make peace with their father's death. The Gold family deals with their grief the same way they treat their problems --- silently. As a result, each sister has an emotional explosion at the end of the book. While dealing with their emotions, they are also forced to realize the importance of each other as family. At times sad and at times humorous, THE KEY TO THE GOLDEN FIREBIRD is an engaging read that you will enjoy.

Reviewed by Kristi Olson on May 25, 2004

The Key to the Golden Firebird
by Maureen Johnson

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060541385
  • ISBN-13: 9780060541385