Thursday, 5 September 2013

Review: The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson


Title: The Key to the Golden Firebird
Author: Maureen Johnson
Author Info: Website|Blog|Twitter
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: 4th July 2013

Tell Me About It
Life hasn't been the same for the Gold sisters since their father died. Brooks is not-so-quietly falling apart, May is desperately trying to keep everything and everyone together, and Palmer... well, who knows what's up with Palmer.

May is sure if she could just learn to drive, life would be so much simpler. But with both her mum and Brooks permanently AWOL, getting her license is looking hopeless - until Pete offers to teach her.
My Thoughts
I have read a few of Maureen's other books so I already know I like her style of writing.  When I got the chance to review The Key to the Golden Firebird it was an instant yes.
Brooks, May and Palmer are sisters, the beginning of The Key to the Golden Firebird shows us the type of relationship they have as they tag team Pete in order to prank him and get him back for pranks he ha carried out on May.  They are happy and carefree until they go home to discover their father has died of a heart attack.  A year later the once close relationship they had is fractured and now the girls bicker and torment each other.  Brooks is becoming out of control, partying, drinking and giving up on pastimes.  Palmer retreats to her own bubble, watching TV at an insanely loud volume level,  May is trying to work, study, look after her younger sister, learn to drive, and try to keep this family running.

Pete is the boy the girls have grown up with, upon reading the synopsis it initially seemed like he would be a bully, but in reality the teasing and pranks goes both ways, they are pretty harmless and seem more like pranks siblings would do on each other.

Going into The Key to the Golden Firebird I thought it would all be sunshine and rainbows and flowers, and that idea was quickly blown away.  The girls and family have a lot to deal with, loss of a loved one, stress of school and pressure to perform well in sports, struggling to make every penny stretch as far as possible, their Mum even picks up extra hours in work in order to keep up payments on bills.  My heart broke for this family, seeing them struggle day to day, when Pete's Mum is there to help, picking up extra bits from the supermarket for them it made me see how good of a relationship they have with Pete's family, and while he is occasionally annoying it was nice to know the support was there.

The Key to the Golden Firebird  is not all doom and gloom, there are moments that had me laughing, especially the family holiday they went on, who knew you needed all those things for an RV.  Also seeing how this family worked through the bad things and made something matter, the girls had a crazy plan for their fathers ashes and to actually go through with it was something I would not have done.  Seeing these girls finally make peace with each other truly was a happy moment.
The Key to the Golden Firebird  is told in multiple points of view, with the girls sharing chapters, giving us a birds eye view into what each one is going through and trying to deal with.  We see them struggle to keep going, not letting the loss of their father bring them down, and dealing with it the only way they know how.  Pete also plays a big role in this story, he is there for May in a lot of different ways  and I really enjoyed seeing this duo develop a strong friendship.

The Key to the Golden Firebird is a quick but great read, and once again Maureen has written a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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