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The Key to the Golden Firebird

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  4,905 ratings  ·  292 reviews
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 lic
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 4th 2013 by Hot Key Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,905 ratings  ·  292 reviews

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Aug 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
You know how much I love Maureen Johnson. In case you haven't heard me say it before, if you like teen novels, go out and read 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Maureen's novels are funny because she only has one protagonist. Her main girl is always introspective, too-goody-goody-for-her-own-good, but kind of cool anyway. Quiet, but has her noisy moments. Thinks too much. Is too responsible and finds her resolution by letting go and being wild.

It's all the same girl. The reason I don't mind so much is be
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i think i liked this best, so far, of marueen johnson, though i can't quite put my finger on why. i love the relationship of the sisters, and while i wish the focus wasn't so much on may, i therefore loved whenever the others came in. poor brooks, i really wish she had her own story. and i think i want to be palmer. palmer is my hero.

maybe there was a bit of projective identification going on as well - two of my sisters play softball (one with complete passion, one more just because) and i'm t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellie Marney
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I confess now that I LOVE Maureen Johnson's writing. Everything she writes has this incredible can't-put-your-finger-on-it luminous quality, and I think it's because she allows the characters to be themselves. She doesn't seek out the dramatic high-point, or display the pivotal apex of the scene - it's as if she shows you the bright self-aware moments on either side of the drama, and because they're not the 'sound-bite/tv scene' moments, they're so much more real. She doesn't automatically follo ...more
Jun 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Sarah Dessen, baseball fans
Shelves: 21c, american, teen, realistic
Don't be deceived by the misleadingly chick-lit cover. Three sisters cope with the death of their father in this teen novel set in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Recurring themes: baseball and softball, and the titular Pontiac Firebird. This novel gets extra points for not being gratuitously depressing; in fact, it's often gently comic. And the characterization is moving and authentic.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(NB I am reviewing DRUNK)

Man. So great yet so easy to nitpick. Like, Pete is so great but so unrealistically perfect. Like, the different sisters don't have different personalities so much as different situations. Like, doesn't the mother impact on their lives more? Like, what's the actual plot? Like, isn't the cathartic action at the end all a bit creative-writing-class?

And yet, page by page, I loved this book, with the three sisters' grief spilling out of them in different ways. I laughed out
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
short,, will review later
Acordul Fin
I'm either too old to have read this or I'm dead inside. Probably too old. Hopefully too old.
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: guest-reviews
Review by Kate - Year 8

Life has not been the same for the Gold sisters; May, Brooks and Palmer since the sudden death of their father. Their mother’s depression means they are left to cope alone, especially as she works night shifts in order to support the family.

The third person narrative allows insight and focus on all the different characters and makes it easier to follow along with the story. Each sister has her own unique way of dealing with her grief. While they are all very different pers
Anouk Adriana
I really don’t know how I feel about this book... I wasn’t too keen on the writing and I really didn’t like the beginning (or the first 200 pages) because nothing really happened. I feel like I just got to know the characters in the last 70 pages.
But somehow the ending really moved me. May being open about how she thought her father felt about her really touched me and got me teared up a little.
Stacey (prettybooks)
After reading and thoroughly enjoying Suite Scarlett , I was very much looking forward to picking up Maureen Johnson's other novels, so I went for The Key to the Golden Firebird, which is very much in the same vein as Suite Scarlett. Maureen Johnson has a brilliant way of showing just how complicated family dynamics can be. The Key to the Golden Firebird starts with describing the heart-warming, close relationship that the Gold sisters have with their father, but then he dies from a sudden he ...more
Mrs. S
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I am always surprised at the amount of heart and sincerity in Maureen Johnson's books. Her online persona is so goofy and occasionally diabolical, and her books are so funny, that when I get to the end and I'm genuinely touched--as I always am--it startles me a little. This one was no exception. The Gold sisters--Brooks, May, and Palmer--are utterly lovable. They are each so broken up over their father's death, each in their own way. The shifting perspective gives us glimpses into each sister's ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It had surprising depth and great character growth. I didn't know anything about it going in, but I'm really glad I read it. It follows three sisters who are overcoming a death in the family along with usual teenage hormones and drama thrown in and adding to the mix. I really liked how we got to follow all three sisters even though May was the main sister. I can definitely imagine this book being a lot deeper and introspective and moving, but it had a nice balance of ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like Maureen Johnson a lot - her characters and stories feel really real and honest (other than that one where jack the ripper comes back as a ghost or something)and all about relationships and families. I didn't like this one quite as much as 13 Little Blue Envelopes or Suite Scarlett but I still really enjoyed reading it. And just in case you want to know what it's about - it tells the story of three sisters coping in the aftermath of their fathers death and their different ways of dealing w ...more
When their father dies of an unexpected heart attack just after arriving home in his beloved gold Firebird, the three Gold sisters each react to it in different ways. Sensible May tries to keep things going and has a surprising romance with Pete, whom she's known all her life. Jock Brooks starts drinking and running with a rebellious crowd. And introvert Palmer withdraws even more, trying to hide her panic attacks from her family.

Johnson's characterization is sharp and observant, as always, and
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was amazing!
it is about a girl named Mayzie (aka May) and her father dies from bad health. May's family is a huge fan of baseball, especially her dad. in the story, her family struggles with getting over the death, trying to get good grades, making some money and May deals with a little romance when her close friend and neighbor gives her driving lessons.
i loved this book because it brought so many emotions to me and it sometimes made my heart skip a beat. i couldn't put the book down.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult-lit
This is the first Maureen Johnson book I've read, and I have to say I really liked it. It did read like a lot of YA lit for girls, but I think that's what its purpose is. The main characters were all girls searching for themselves after the loss of their father. It had a nice sports angle and it really dealt with the sisterly relationship well. However, it really would be enjoyed most by fans of YA lit only.
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-contemporary
My favourite thing about Maureen's books is that the focus is never between protagonist and love interest. This book, for example, is all about three sisters. I originally marked it as tree stars but then I read some one and two star reviews that had issues with things in the book that weren't issues at all so I bumped it up to four. My favourite Maureen book is probably still Suite Scarlett but I did enjoy reading this.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends, any girl who loves chick-lit
This book is really good, especially if you've read other Maureen Johnson books. Maureen really helps you understand each one of the characters. You can't help but hate Brooks for being so forgetful, but you also have sympathy for her later in the book. Each one of the characters has a distinct personality, May's shyness, Palmer's determination, and Brook's independence. It's a really good book!
Kymberly Couch
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very cleverly written! I expected a bit more madness from Maureen, but I certainly was not disappointed in any way.
And that plot drop at the beginning.... Thank God I didn't read the back of the book! I wish they hadn't put it on the back so then everyone will be as shocked as the girls at what happened.
Morgan F
3.5 stars. I liked it, but it doesn't stand out.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so this book dealt with a lot. And I like how there was some character growth throughout the story. But I also really feel like it's not yet finished.

The romance needs more growth. You can't just have Pete date other people throughout the whole book, and then after 200 damn pages... 200 FREAKING PAGES, (view spoiler) Like, honey, I need mo
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book over 10 years ago in high school and remember loving it because of the way it made me feel, and specifically remember adoring the relationship between May and Peter. I decided to reread this book as a quick and easy trad after listening to a podcast about formative books and to see how this one held up for me. I definitely still enjoyed it, but its clearly written in a very YA style so probably not something I would pick up today. I still felt oddly connected to the main c ...more
Ashley Sousa
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was slow going for me at first, and then I read the last 150 pages in one sitting. I love Maureen Johnson and am working through all of her books, and I think one of the things I like about this one is that the romance is secondary. The characters are all deeply flawed - many of them say and do bad things, often without recognizing it, but it makes things feel quite realistic. The sister relationship also feels so strong, and as a middle daughter of three sisters it felt very familiar.
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by Maureen Johnson and sadly it took me a while to get into the story, I think this is mostly because this isn't the usual type of book I'd go for however I do think that she did a good job of writing about difficult subjects such as grief and by showing how each member of the family dealt with their loss gave it more depth than I had expected for a ya novel about this topic
Brian Hutzell
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Maureen Johnson has taken a serious subject—the death of a parent and subsequent collapse of the family—and managed to write a story that is touching but never overly sentimental. Nor does it devolve into despair. In fact, The Key to the Golden Firebird is a very funny book. It is a quick read, but not a shallow one. Highly recommended.
Julia Concepcion
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summers
Apart from a few odd stray lines, Maureen Johnson has yet again given another smart story. I especially like how, despite the fact that the sisters each have weird names, that least the reasons for them are justified and not a product of the author trying to be all cutesy
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3-3.5ish? This book really hit that messy time-has-passed-but-I'm-still-lost feeling that comes with losing a loved one right on the head, but I also spent so much time disliking the characters. It's complicated. But good. I think.
Alex Hale
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Not as good as the Shades of London series, but I still enjoyed it.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this back when I was an actual, targeted by YA "young adult" and loved it.
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Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls' Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen's characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Han

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