Booktalk: The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson

Key to the Golden Firebird cover

The Key to the Golden Firebird was the first of Maureen Johnson’s books that I read, but it definitely wasn’t the last.  I loved this book because it had believable characters and it was about death and grief (and thus a good candidate for the “books that will make me cry” category).  Give this to readers who are looking for realistic fiction, for books about families and friendship, and for books that are rooted in sadness but are ultimately uplifting.


Brooks, May and Palmer are three sisters who are having a great Memorial Day weekend.  They’re going with their family to their annual baseball game at Camden Yards and plotting how to steal Peter Camp’s clothes while he’s in the swimming pool.  But their good times vanish when their father suddenly has a heart attack in the garage and dies right next to his beloved 1967 golden Pontiac Firebird.

People say things that are supposed to make them feel better.  They say, “Your dad’s in a better place now,” like he’s on vacation or something.  Each girl deals with her sorrow in different ways, but soon alcohol, depression, panic attacks and destructive relationships make their lives even worse.

As the weeks turn into months, their lives begin spiraling out of control.  But one thing still holds these girls together: the memories of their father and his Pontiac Firebird that is still sitting, empty, in the garage.  Like the key to the Firebird that hangs in the kitchen, the girls need a key to help get their lives back on track.  They just need to find that key before it’s too late.

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