Title: The Life of Glass
Author: Jillian Cantor
Source: A signed copy from the author herself!
Summary (From book flap):
Before he died, Melissa's father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren't always the most beautiful -- that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn't only skin deep, the people around her don't seem to feel that way. There's her gorgeous sister, Ashley, who will barely acknowledge Melissa at school; there's her best friend, Ryan, who may be falling in love with the sophisticated Courtney; and there's Melissa's mother, who's dating someone new, someone Melissa knows will never be able to replace her father.
To make sure she doesn't lose her father completely, Melissa spends her time trying to piece together the last of his secrets and finishing a journal he began -- one about love and relationships and the remarkable ways people find one another. But when tragedy strikes, Melissa has to start living and loving in the present as she realizes that being beautiful on the outside doesn't mean you can't be beautiful on the inside.
My Two Cents:
This is one great young adult novel. It has appeal to younger readers without being overly trendy (Ex: Lots of swearing, sex, etc.) or preachy and is readable by adults without being boring. Cantor does a great job balancing this book for her target audience while also allowing a wider audience to enjoy the novel.
Melissa is a great, well-rounded character. She has a lot of the hallmarks of "typical" teen characters -- Insecurity about her looks, fights with her sister, a feeling of alienation, a little bit of a bratty streak -- without being so overly typical that she becomes a stereotype. She also has a decent amount of maturity, but she's not so "grown up" that teen readers won't be able to relate to her. Cantor's decision to make Melissa her narrator really makes this book.
I really enjoyed that Melissa's relationship with and perception of her deceased father is portrayed in a journal of off-the-wall facts and stories he collected. The journal presents some really great scenes for Melissa and serves as a jumping-off point for her adventures, but the plot isn't so heavily reliant upon the journal's contents that its appearance becomes annoying.
Cantor's writing is really fluid. This book was an easy read for me. She includes enough detail to keep things interesting without being so detailed that it feels like reading Steinbeck. There's a great balance in her writing, as in a lot of the novel, that helps it keep a wide appeal.
If you are looking for a coming-of-age, wholesome young adult novel, check out this book.