Steph Su's Reviews > The Key to the Golden Firebird

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
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's review
Jul 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: own, comfort-read

One minute May Gold was the average teenage girl, trying to balance being a good daughter and sister while simultaneously plotting revenge on the boy next door, her father’s best friend’s son Pete Camp (hint: it involves nudity). The next, she’s father-less, Mike Gold the victim of a heart attack that leaves behind a struggling nurse wife and three shocked sisters, who whirl off into their own ways of dealing with the news.

A year later, things have not improved much in the Gold household. Their mother is constantly at work, and is thus unable to notice how Brooks, the eldest sister, sneaks out every night to get drunk with her “boyfriend” Dave and his motley crew. Palmer, the youngest, struggles to hide her panic attacks while becoming the next softball star on her high school’s varsity team. And May, the middle sister, the responsible one, feels constrained by the chores laid upon her because no one else will do them.

Even worse, May fails her driver’s test—and May never fails any test. She has no choice but to accept Pete’s offer of teaching her how to drive, providing him with even more opportunities to tease her and play jokes on her. Pete has always been “just Pete” to May… until he starts dating her coworker. Suddenly, May’s not sure if she’s comfortable with the situation. Which means… what? And what can she possibly do about it, when she and her two sisters don’t know yet when they are allowed to be normal again?

The plot, while basic, comes alive at the skilled hands of Maureen Johnson, who provides wit, humor, and heart aplenty for everyone. It’s an easy read, but the writing will stay with you and make you yearn for more from this highly acclaimed author.

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