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The Life of Glass Hardcover – February 9, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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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 10, 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,145,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karen Keyte VINE VOICE on August 10, 2011
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
Did you know glass won’t dissolve for a million years? Such are the types of facts collected by Melissa during the times she and her dad spent pondering the mysteries of the world. When he dies of cancer, Melissa is left with the bit of glass she’d found one day with her best friend Ryan, and Dad’s last words about the fate of glass. Starting high school without her dad is hard enough without her beautiful and popular sister Ashley reminding her everyday of how ugly and lonely she feels.

Two years later, even though Ashley seems to have moved on without a problem, and her mother begins to date a horse rancher, Melissa still feels like something is missing from her life. Daily she looks through her dad’s old journal trying to find some interesting fact or memory, especially when Ryan starts going out with the new girl at school, Courtney, and leaves her behind.

Melissa misses her friendship with Ryan and her dad and wishes she could talk with her mother about her feelings, especially when she finds a note from her father about a woman who’s not her mother. Melissa, now obsessed with finding out what this woman meant to her dad, is soon caught up in events that are more unsettling than she’d thought. It seems like her own life, and others, is being reduced to glass, slowly cracking and breaking away bit by bit.

This was a pretty good read, and I’m sure students in grades 7-10 would enjoy it.
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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
This was a beautifully woven story. It's often very difficult for me to find a book at the library that I can stick with for awhile. I couldn't put this one down. It had an enticing cover, and I was even more intrigued by the story. This book was very close to home, as a family member of mine also is battling cancer. I could easily relate to Melissa, the main character, and the book felt so real to me. The way she perceives herself and the world around her is so miraculously similar to my feelings. I found myself muttering, "YES! YES!" over and over when I could relate to something so clearly. I'm sure many of you know the feeling. This book was a sense of hope and encouragement. Although a simple storyline, it was extremely empowering, and certainly is a story that grows on you. I'm a sucker for love stories, and reading this really made my week. How wonderful would it be to fall in love with your best friend? This is a sweet, humorous, timeless tale that will stick with you forever. This is a must read. And...if you think this is a mere chick flick with a guy and a girl who fall in love and walk into the sunset, think again. This book encourages me to accept myself for who I am, be strong enough to pick myself up when tragedy hits, and to simply believe in happy endings. Because they ARE real.
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