Best Books of the Month Shop Costumes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Introducing Handmade New Kitchen Scale from AmazonBasics Amazon Gift Card Offer hog hog hog  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage UnchartedBundle Shop Now Learn more
The Key to the Golden Firebird and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Key to the Golden Firebird Hardcover – May 25, 2004

26 customer reviews

See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$5.00 $0.01

Dangerous Lies
A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, a New York Times bestselling author. Learn more

Editorial Reviews Review

When Mike Gold has a heart attack and dies in his 1967 Firebird, the car sits in the family garage untouched for a year. May, Brooks, and Palmer Gold--all teenage girls in what May calls the "Tall, Blond, and Wonderful Family"--suffer from neglect as well when their mother goes to work overtime at the hospital to pay the bills. The three girls deal with their father's death in different ways: Brooks quits softball and starts drinking, Palmer ferociously focuses on pitching and TV, hiding her panic attacks from everyone, and May tries to keep the family together. As the family unravels, the Firebird endures. Palmer uses the back seat as a place to escape, Brooks takes it out for a spin when she's drunk (and gets arrested), and for the grand finale, the three girls take the battleship-sized car to Camden Yards to throw their father's ashes on the pitcher's mound. Fortunately, this is the act that allows the girls to start anew, like the phoenix rising.

Readers will appreciate the character of the only really steady force in this novel--the frizzy-haired, wonderfully goofy Pete Camp, May's one-time nemesis who ends up helping out the family and ultimately winning her heart. As engaging, wryly funny, and issue-rich as Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Maureen Johnson's The Key to the Golden Firebird will no doubt appeal to a similar audience of teens dealing with their budding sexuality, peer pressure, and much, much more. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–Poignant and laced with wry humor, this novel follows the Gold sisters as they cope with their father's sudden death from a heart attack. While their mother works overtime to keep them afloat financially, the three teens cope in their own way–often with disastrous results. The focus is on May, the studious, steady middle sister, who tries to hold the family together even as she is going to pieces on the inside. She is falling for Pete, a neighbor she has grown up with, but is afraid to admit it even to herself, so she watches in agony as he dates her coworker at a coffee shop. Palmer, the youngest, begins to have panic attacks. Brooks, the oldest, quits the softball team, gets drunk on a regular basis, and makes plans to have sex with her not-quite-boyfriend. Set in a suburb of Philadelphia, the novel revolves around baseball and the father's Pontiac Firebird, which serves as a haven for one of the girls, a means to rebel for another, and an important part of the healing process for all three. This is a wonderfully moving and entertaining novel full of authentic characters and emotions.–Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060541385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060541385
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,882,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, and The Name of the Star. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Maureen has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University. She has been nominated for an Edgar Award and the Andre Norton Award, and her books appear frequently on YALSA and state awards lists. Time Magazine has named her one of the top 140 people to follow on Twitter (@maureenjohnson). Maureen lives in New York, and online on Twitter (or at

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

(What's this?)
#87 in Books > Teens
#87 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Key to the Golden Firebird

Maureen Johnson

This is the story of three teenage sisters that have to work together to over come a tragedy in their life. A year ago the three sisters Brooks, May, and Palmer found out about their dads death. He died from a heart attack in his beloved 1967 Firebird. Their family is falling apart now that their dad is gone. Their mom is not home much because of her work. She has a night time job as a nurse.

All three of the sisters have a different way of coping with this tragedy. Brooks is the oldest of the three girls. She found a boyfriend, Dave, that she is spending every minute of her free time with. He is being a bad influence on her life. Dave talked her into quitting her high school softball teem, and now she is into a life of drinking, staying out late, and getting into trouble. This life leads her to getting arrested for drunk driving!

May is the middle sister. She is known as the responsible one. She is doing well in school, and has an after school job to raise money for collage. May does something that no one would expect from a responsible child. She fails her driving test. When her neighbor, Pete, agrees to give her lessons, May discovers new feelings for Pete. She is falling for the once mean neighbor that would play tricks on her every change he got.

Finally there's Palmer. She is the youngest sister. She likes to keep to herself, and never tell anyone anything about her life. She is an amazing softball player. She is the pitcher on her high school team. She watches tv a lot and likes to go through her moms closet. One day while she is looking through old things in her mothers closet she discovers something that will change all of them forever.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's been a year since the unthinkable happened. On that fateful day, Mike Gold had a fatal heart attack in his beloved 1967 golden Firebird Pontiac. Since they lost their father, the Gold sisters --- May, Brooks and Palmer --- have not been the same. Before, they were typical teenagers who enjoyed carefree summer pranks. Now, their mother is not around as much; she has to work the night shift as a nurse to support the family, and the three sisters are left to fend for themselves.

THE KEY TO THE GOLDEN FIREBIRD tells the stories of three teenage sisters who are all very different, yet they're struggling with the same problem. May Gold, short for Mayzie, is the reliable sister --- she's smart, does well in school, works a part-time job to save money for college, and is expected to keep a watchful eye on her younger sister, Palmer. In a very un-Maylike turn of events, May fails her driver's exam. Pete Camp, the adorable dorky neighbor, volunteers to teach May to drive. During May's summer of driving lessons, she also encounters a bumpy ride of falling in love with someone she knew her whole life.

Brooks Gold is the oldest. As a testament to their father's addiction to baseball, Brooks is named after the famous baseball player Brooks Robinson. Brooks herself is a star softball player, but in the summer after her father's death, she finds herself hanging out with a new wild boyfriend, Dave, and his inner-circle of misfits. When Dave suggests that she quit the team, she comes to a realization.

Brooks thinks, "Her father had put a bat in her hand the minute she was strong enough to hold it up, and that was that. Afternoons and weekends were for playing. She didn't even know what people who didn't play sports did with their time.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra Norman, an avid reader on June 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved this story. It was funny, engaging, moving, and ultimately totally gripping. I read a lot, and in many genres (from SciFi to sufi mysticism - no kidding), and I quite literally could not put the Key to the Golden Firebird down. The characters were very real to me, and their situations sympathetic and interesting. The way people acted seemed very natural - just as confusing as people are all the time. I was desperate to find out if May could pull something good out of her awkwardness with Pete, and the spiralling troubles of her family, and ... well, I won't spoil the suspense for you. Read it, and love it yourself!!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Moonchicky08 on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tragedy can do one of many things. It can bring people together, but it can also cause people to separate. In the Gold's case it did both. May, Palmer and Brooks are sisters but they don't seem to have one single thing in common except for the fact that they share the same mother and father. May Gold was the middle child of the three sisters. She had always been the responsible one and the one everyone could count on. When a heart attack claims her father's life, May finds herself being weighted down with the family's burdens. In this story May finds herself and she also reconnects with her family through the pain that all of them have suffered.

When I first started reading this book I wasn't sure what to expect. I must be truthful: my expectations were not very high. The title didn't bring much excitement. The qoute, "Don't judge a book by its cover" came to mind after I read this book. I could barely put it down. I found myself deeply indulged in this story. Some of the situations were predictable, but it was great, just the same. The title of this book truly does suit it. This book was an amazing treat. It's sure to be a keeper and an instant favorite.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews