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For This Life Only Hardcover – August 30, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—High school student Jacob Palmer has escaped Christmas family time overload to go to a party with friends—unfortunately, he has no ride home. Jace begs his disapproving twin, Elijah, to pick him up. Eli has always been the "good" one, the true preacher's kid, but a night that feels like any other is suddenly not. A violent accident leaves one twin permanently scarred and the other dead—the wrong twin, in everyone's opinion. Struggling through the atmosphere of constant self-blame and guilt, Jace attempts to normalize life without Eli, but disturbing memories of their last night keep coming back. Kade's writing effectively conveys loss; readers can feel the trauma of losing not only a family member but also a sense of belonging. A few of the characters run to formulaic conventions—the intolerant Christian father and the quirky outcast love interest, Thera Catoulus—however, through their interactions, Jace's character authentically engages in introspection and emotional wandering. One of the main conflicts, the Riverwood church administration's planned takeover of Catoulus family land, comes to an unlikely and abrupt conclusion but is satisfying for those wanting a happy ending. VERDICT An accurate depiction of a tragic teen experience; a solid addition to general fiction collections.—Michael Marie Jacobs, Darlington School, GA
“Kade’s writing effectively conveys loss; readers can feel the trauma of losing not only a family member but also a sense of belonging.” (School Library Journal)
“Kade's contemplation of life and the afterlife is unflinching, and Jace's journey through his grief is messy, raw, and, above all, real. Spot-on dialogue and an authentic voice keep this story fresh. Poignant and powerful.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"A striking meditation on grief, blame, fate, and losing one's faith." (Publishers Weekly)
"A thought-provoking and hopeful look at grief and recovery." (Justine Magazine)
"Jace narrates in an authentic, questioning voice that captures everything from identity loss to survivor guilt." (Booklist)
Top customer reviews
I'm grateful to Kade for addressing this topic, for writing a character who questions wether people truly end up "in a better place" after they die. It was interesting to read from Jace's pov as he struggled with the faith his parents were so desperate to hold onto in the light of tragedy. I felt like I could relate to him a lot, as I've never really been religious and don't really know what to believe in terms of life after death.
This book made me SOB so so much. But it was worth it. It's a book that makes you think and second guess your presumptions regarding the afterlife and Jace was a very strong, very real main character and the way he was written had me grow very attached to him, helped me to understand each of his thoughts and actions.
Thera was a bit prickly and hard to like at first but she grew on me and I came to admire her honesty, her ferocity and the way she was there for Jace without really coddling or pitying him, although I personally would have liked to see more of a heart to heart between them, with Jace breaking down and spilling all his feelings of guilt and sorrow because well, I'm sappy like that. Overall one of my favorite reads of this year, and I can't wait to read more by Stacey Kade.
let me dive in before I review. Stacey Kade has been one of my fave authors. she has done so many things that make a fangirl cry. but anyway, I sent her a paper craft that was a replica of the book cover of FOR THIS LIFE ONLY and a fan letter too. i was so relieved she liked it. she even showed it to social media which i wasn't expecting. she mentioned that she'll write back. but instead, she sent me a signed copy of her book for free! and I was crying for joy! she is just amazing!
ok! sorry, going back to the review. i've been looking forward to reading this but I haven't had a lot of time because I had other books that needs to be finished. So Lenten season came rolling in and I thought that this would be perfect to read for Holy Week. I always thought that this book was brave, that Stacey Kade was brave for sharing a book about religion. okay, I know... Christianity is not a diverse religion at all. and it's definitely not a minority. and there is a genre dedicated only to Christian romances and stuff like that. but this book is so much more. it's brave because it actually shares something about having a religion and actually live it fully.
I love the fact that doubt played a role in this book. I myself doubted it, but this book is not even so much about Christianity it's about being able to choose freely and being free from what life has shoved in you when you are born. this book also talks about family, friendship, and relationships. but it definitely talks about self-worth and whether to believe in yourself to choose what is right and wrong.
if you have self-doubt this book is definitely something I would hand to you.
I love the fact that this book offered so much more than the book description. After seeing where the book was headed, I was flipping through the pages like crazy and just made me want more!
and truthfully, that's the only thing I wanted: more. it felt it was cut short, it's partially open-ended, but it has a concrete ending.
I love the book. but there are two things I love most about it. One, is Jace's growth in the whole situation. And two, is Jace and Thera's love story! I swear! augh! they are crazy adorable! Thera seemed to be like Jace's manic pixie dream girl, but as you delve deeper into the story, she's not. She just understands Jace and it just grew more. I also love the fact the Thera is a badass and yeay feminist! haha!
crazy amazing book. i will treasure this book
not just because it was signed and the story how I got it is extraordinary, but also because it's a different view of how life is. and that view just spoke volumes to me.
p.s. i love the tinnie tiny bit of a nod to The Ghost and the Goth trilogy.
Eli and Jace are identical twins and the sons of the pastor of a megachurch. They are both expected to be perfect, but while Eli seems to have no trouble doing what is expected of him, Jace struggles with being a “preacher’s kid” and sees himself as the “bad” twin. When Jace’s request for Eli to pick him up after a party leads to Eli’s death in an accident, Jace struggles with feeling like the wrong person died. He also struggles with his faith, since he also died in the accident and came back with no sense of God’s presence. When Jace gets to know Thera, the daughter of the local psychic, she begins to help him work through his grief and doubt. His relationship with Thera is a problem, though, because Jace’s father hates what Thera’s mother does and the fact that she lives and runs her business right across from his church.
In general, I liked this book. I liked both Thera and Jace as characters, and I thought the author did a good job developing the relationship between Thera and Jace. Unlike the other people in his life, she doesn’t have expectations for how he should behave or think, which frees him to grow and change as a person. I also appreciated the way the author explored Jace’s crisis of faith after his brother’s death. It’s entirely natural to question God’s presence in the face of tragedy, and Kade doesn’t simplify Jace’s struggle to maintain his faith. Rather than turning this into a Christian novel by ending with an unambiguous assertion of Jace’s belief in God, the author leaves him continuing the process of questioning and exploring his faith, which I thought was a realistic touch.
The biggest problem I had with the story is that I thought that a few things resolved themselves a little too easily. I felt like Thera helped get Jace back on track almost too quickly, but maybe it’s just that the author jumps the book forward in time. Kade opens with the accident and then picks up the action when Jace goes back to school, jumping over several months of him struggling with his grief and the changes in his life. I also thought that the problem of Thera’s mother’s business was solved too quickly and neatly at the end of the story.
Even though I had a few quibbles with the book, I would recommend it to readers looking for a novel exploring grief and faith in the face of the loss of a loved one.
An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Most recent customer reviews
I was really cutting it close, considering this book releases tomorrow.Read more
Stacey Kade takes an honest, realistic look at family, faith, and the importance of...Read more