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.Read more...
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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.
This is a lyrical tale of love, loss, and self-discovery from the author of The September Sisters.
- ISBN-13: 9780061686511
- ISBN-10: 0061686514
- Publisher: Harper Teen
- Publish Date: February 2010
- Page Count: 340
- Reading Level: Ages 13-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 120.
- Review Date: 2010-01-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Cantor (The September Sisters) introduces inquisitive 14-year-old Melissa and her somewhat shallow older sister, Ashley, who live in Arizona. A year and a half after their father dies of lung cancer, their mother starts dating again, and Melissa becomes desperate to preserve the memory of her father. She begins reading his journal, which contains family members’ love stories—notes for a book he was writing—and starts creating love stories for her relatives while investigating a woman from her father’s past. Melissa’s emotions are authentically chaotic as she fears losing her best friend, Ryan, to a charming yet insincere new student; feels abandoned by her mother and sister; and has to decipher her true feelings for Ryan when a popular stud takes an interest in her. Melissa’s first-person narrative and pithy remarks (“I always thought that there was one person you were supposed to love.... It had never occurred to me... that my mother was going to look for that love all over again”) are realistic and relatable as she comes to terms with the inevitability—and also the possibilities—of the future. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Picking up the broken pieces
It’s been almost two years since Melissa’s father lost his long-fought battle to cancer. She keeps him alive by remembering the unusual information he loved, like the fact that glass takes a million years to decay. These interesting tidbits offer the high school freshman a new way of looking at the world, but they don’t provide any guidance on how to grow up and work through her continuing grief.
While her older sister Ashley begins preparing for beauty pageants, following in the footsteps of their gorgeous mother, who has started dating again, plainer Melissa just wants everything to remain the same. At least she can depend on Ryan, her childhood friend who still likes to ride bikes in the river wash behind their Phoenix desert homes—until curvy, confident Courtney transfers to their school and immediately sets her sights on Ryan. And Melissa has always thought she could depend on her adoring father’s impeccable reputation, until she discovers clues about a woman from his past.
As she dates a popular senior athlete (as much a surprise to her as it is to the rest of the school), all the while hiding her envy of Ryan and his new girlfriend, Melissa achingly ponders beauty, jealousy, secrets and the signs of first love. Instead of seeking out the answers to her family’s mysteries, she realizes that she can fill in the gaps with her own stories. And taking her father’s facts and wisdom to heart, she also realizes that relationships are like glass: they may break into pieces around you, but those pieces stay with you forever.
In Jillian Cantor’s expressive, eloquently rendered coming-of-age novel, The Life of Glass, the broken-glass motif echoes throughout Melissa’s heartfelt story of love and resilience. Cantor’s pitch-perfect narration and spot-on depiction of emotional turmoil will remind readers of the exquisite fragility of adolescence.
Angela Leeper is a librarian at the University of Richmond.