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The Life of Glass Hardcover – February 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—Melissa's father is dying, and the last words they share come as she shows him a piece of weathered glass that she and her friend Ryan found while riding in the wash behind their house. Melissa's world is further jarred as a new girl makes moves on Ryan, and she finds herself jealous. Also, her mother begins dating a cowboy she met at the beauty salon where she works. Now Melissa is clinging to every connection to her dad that she can, including a journal with a mysterious woman's name in it. Melissa worshipped her father; is it possible that he could have had an affair? In the end, when she is able to let the glass go, she is able to move on with her life. The Life of Glass is very much a page-turner and reads effortlessly. Its only flaw lies in trying to be more meaningful than it needs to be: not every interaction needs to be pivotal and every exchange symbolic, but that is easily forgiven. An absorbing read.—Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In the year since her beloved father died of lung cancer, Melissa feels isolated and ignored: her mother has started dating again, her attractive older sister pointedly disowns her at school, and her male best friend becomes involved with a gorgeous new student, causing Melissa to question her feelings for him. She feels an affinity with her aunt Julia, who was also an ugly duckling to a swan-like sibling, and she takes comfort in maintaining the book of love stories and odd facts that her father started. Themes of memory, beauty, and secrets come together in this thoughtful, uplifting book that skillfully avoids Cinderella-tale predictability. Melissa grows and matures, but she also remains true to the person that she was at the book’s start, and she is an honest narrator who describes both her own flaws, as well as the positive traits of those she dislikes. What could have been a formulaic tale of adolescent angst is instead a gentle portrait of a girl growing through her grief. Grades 7-12. --Kara Dean

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (February 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061686514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061686511
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,073,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jillian Cantor has a B.A. in English from Penn State University and an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona, where she was also a recipient of the national Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. The author of several books for teens and adults, she grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Kristen M. Harvey on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Melissa's father died nearly two years ago in April. The last words he spoke were spoken to her and involved a small piece of glass she found in The Wash - a nearby dried up riverbed. Now her life is changing. A new girl moves into town - Courtney and becomes a close friend. The only problem - she likes Melissa's best friend Ryan and he's a bit taken with her as well. Her mother is now dating again and the guy may be younger but her mother seems to be taken with the man. Melissa's older sister Ashley is the same old annoying older sister - never giving her a ride to school and calling her the "imp" whenever talking to her friends. All this and it's her freshman year of high school. But a few different events change the life of Melissa and those around her, will their family work through it in the end?

The Life of Glass is a gorgeously written book about one girl's journey into coming into her own. Melissa is driven by what she enjoys, but she doesn't fully recognize herself for who she is yet. When Ryan gets pulled away from her, she finds that her feelings for him are deeper than friendship but she rather have him by her side in any way possible than not at all. None of the characters are really two-faced. Yes, there's some pettiness involved in the book - her sister being popular and hanging out with the crowd that is snobbish and self-centered. But there's a little more to each of them, a bit of depth.

The point of view of this book is really something else. You get this foggy sense of Melissa's personality and as the novel unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer - like you are taking the journey with her into realizing who she really is. I like the realism, the interesting characters, and the overall story of this novel and I will definitely be picking up more of Jillian's novels in the future.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The last thing my father ever told me was that it takes glass a million years to decay. ... It was amazing, the way humans were just flesh and bones, and so susceptible to being broken down into so much less than that, into shadows and old men and hospice-bed figures, and yet glass could stay whole for so long." - Melissa McAllister

Exactly one year, two months and three weeks before Melissa McAllister's first day of high school, her beloved father died of cancer. It is an event she still struggles to get past every single day. When she was with her father, Melissa felt interesting and worthwhile, but she has absolutely nothing in common with her mother and her older sister, Ashley. One a former beauty queen and one a current pageant participant, they seem so much like each other and so very different from studious, introspective Melissa. If it weren't for her best friend Ryan and the stories and tidbits of information in her father's journal, Melissa fears she would become completely invisible.

As the school year progresses, it seems to Melissa as if everyone important in her life is drifting away from her. First it was her father dying, now her mother is ready to move on - she's even started dating again. Melissa's Grandma Harry has become so forgetful, she barely knows when Melissa has been to see her. And then at school, Ashley goes out of her way to either ignore Melissa completely or belittle her. When Ryan starts dating pretty, sophisticated Courtney Whitman and ignoring Melissa altogether, only her father's journal makes her feel real. But when she learns that her father may have had a secret, Melissa begins to fear the past that she can't seem to leave behind.
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Format: Hardcover
THE LIFE OF GLASS is a coming-of-age story of a high school freshman dealing with the death of her father and her troubling feelings for her best friend.

Melissa McAllister is the smart one. She spent lots of time with her father, who shared interesting facts and tidbits with her. But her father has died of cancer, leaving behind his journal of thoughts and findings. It's to this journal that Melissa turns to when she needs to keep her father close.

When her best friend, Ryan, discovers a special piece of glass in the wash where they hang out in the dry season, she tells him that a single piece of glass can last a million years. Melissa keeps the glass with her most of the time as her special token.

During the course of her freshman year, Melissa lives in the shadows of her beautiful older sister. Her mom and sister share a bond that she's always been left out of. When a gorgeous new girl arrives at school and befriends Melissa, even her sister is surprised. Courtney is nothing like Melissa. But soon, Courtney is moving in on Melissa's best friend, even when Melissa assures her that she and Ryan are only friends.

Ryan starts spending all of his time with Courtney and Melissa is again alone. When a popular older boy starts paying attention to her, her life starts to change drastically.

Ms. Cantor writes a bittersweet story of a girl trying to deal with the loss of her father, whom she was quite close to. She also touchingly portrays the struggles Melissa faces when she comes to realize that maybe her feelings for her best friend go beyond friendship. Over the course of Melissa's year, she matures and grows in confidence and self-esteem, as those around her come to accept her for who she is - and she learns to accept herself, as well.

Reviewed by: Jaglvr
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