K for Key to the Golden Firebird, by Maureen Johnson (book review) – road trip with their late father

book cover of The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson published by HarperTeen K for the key,
Baltimore baseball-loving Dad’s key,
the key to his beloved gold Pontiac Firebird
but what’s the key to the teen Gold sisters coping with life without him?

Things get interesting when May starts thinking of Pete as more than just the annoying practical-joker boy-next-door during their driving lessons.

Maureen Johnson’s tale of the three sisters’ summer of tough love, rough breaks, and glimmers of new hope holds up well several years after its initial publication in 2004 (with a different cover; this is the 2008 version) and is a great choice for National D.E.A.R. Day as you “Drop Everything And Read” (which I hope you do every day).

Is it always this difficult to pick up the pieces after an unexpected loss?

Book info:  The Key to the Golden Firebird / Maureen Johnson.  Harper Teen, 2008.  [author site]  [publisher site]

My recommendation: The heart attack that took their dad a year ago also shattered life for the three Gold sisters. No more cheering at their softball games, no more road trips to baseball games, no more of lots of things since Dad’s life insurance didn’t cover much. It’s still up to May to watch out for everyone; maybe she can find some time for herself…someday.

Now Mom works double-shifts at the hospital to keep the family afloat, older sister Brooks is coping by drinking instead of starring on the softball team, 14-year-old Palmer rejects almost anything that she should eat, and middle sister May is going crazy trying to take care of them and keep up her grades. To stop depending on wildly undependable Brooks for a ride to work, May must get her driver’s license, but has failed her first test – ever.

It’s finally come down to this, asking Pete for help – Pete, whose pranks pulled at May’s expense are legendary – desperate times indeed, if she has to get her life-long nemesis to teach her to drive. And so the summer begins, with May stalling out at stop signs, listening to Nell at work chronicle her dates with Pete, telling Palmer to turn down the television over and over, worrying about Brooks, wondering about this new friendship with Pete.

When Palmer discovers something they’d almost forgotten about, the sisters realize that they have to make one more road trip in Dad’s beloved Firebird before they have to sell the classic car.

Can they honor their dad’s love of baseball without tearing themselves apart?
Can they pull off the trip without Mom learning about it?
Can they put their family back together before it’s too late?

Maybe family and friendship can overcome the odds in this story of finding what’s important in the midst of sorrow for this trio of sisters, named after baseball greats by the dad they adored.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Book in my personal collection. Cover image courtesy of the publisher.

One thought on “K for Key to the Golden Firebird, by Maureen Johnson (book review) – road trip with their late father

  1. Pingback: TBR and A-to-Z – Reflecting on April alphabet soup! | BooksYALove

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.