I received this book for free from the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.For This Life Only by Stacey Kade
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on 2016-08-30
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: the Blog Tour
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A young man struggles to move forward after the death of his twin brother in this gripping, coming-of-age tale about loss, redemption, love, and the moment you begin to see the world differently.
Jacob Palmer died for three life-changing minutes.
And when he woke up, nothing was the same. Elijah, his twin brother, is dead, and his family is broken. Jace’s planned future is crushed, along with his pitching arm. Everyone keeps telling him that Eli’s in a better place, but Jace isn’t so sure. Because in those three minutes, there was nothing.
Overwhelmed by guilt and doubt, Jace struggles to adjust to this new version of the world, one without his brother, one without the certainties he once relied on. And then Thera comes into his life.
She’s the last girl he should be turning to for help.
But she’s also the first person to truly see him.
I’m so excited to be on the tour for Stacey Kade’s new book! I read her 738 Days over the summer and was really surprised by it. Both its difficult topics and its characters that made me think more than I expected, so when the invite for this book went out, I jumped at the chance to join in. And I’m so glad I did. This book was very different from her other one this year but like the other, it does not shy away from difficult topics. And I always appreciate that in books.
Before I started For This Life Only, I was aware that it was a book with a strong religious theme. And I’m glad I knew about it from the start. I don’t always like books with very religious characters because they can sometimes feel preachy to me. And I don’t want an author trying to convert me while reading a piece of fiction. So I was glad that I knew ahead of time but I still had no idea what to expect with the characters. But I’m happy to say that I didn’t feel preached to at all. The main character is the son of a preacher and goes through a very life changing event which then starts him questioning almost everything that he thought he knew and was told growing up. He has questions and he wants answers, but mostly, he just wants to be able to openly discuss his thoughts with someone who won’t judge him or be angry with him for his questions. And I loved that about this book because I think, especially around the teenage years, questionings one’s faith happens quite a bit but isn’t often talked about. When Jacob loses his twin brother, everything changes. I appreciated getting to see him question so much of who he was before and trying to find out who he is after. The battle that goes on inside his head felt real and honest and the way the other characters reacted to him also felt very realistic. I don’t think I’ve read a book before about a teenage boy questioning his religious upbringing, not someone just rebelling but seriously looking for answers. I definitely appreciated Jacob’s struggle and the way it was presented in this book.
I’m also a fan of books that deal with those coming-of-age moments when characters start seeing the world differently than they used to and start living their own life instead of the life their parents have set for them. And I think that was done really well in this book also. Jacob has always sort of just sailed through life, accepted his role as the less-than-perfect twin, and gone with it. He let Eli be the good one and followed along with his friends and teammates at school, let his parents believe he was a bad kid, and didn’t think too much about anyone else. But after the accident, he tries to figure out exactly who Eli was, who he is now that Eli’s gone, and that maybe he wasn’t being true to himself or trying hard enough. I loved seeing his revelations throughout the book, even the heartbreaking ones. Jacob’s past and future might not be what he once thought they were and these moments when he sees that were done beautifully.
If there was one thing I didn’t love about the book, it was that it all felt a little rushed. The book isn’t long at all and a lot happens so it really moved quickly from one thing to the next. I really wish we had had more time for the relationship between Jacob and Thera to develop slower. That we could have had some more time to really see Jacob’s emotional and physical recovery right after the accident. And that the ending hadn’t been so abrupt. But really, I think I just wanted a little more time to settle in with the characters and really feel everything with them instead of having to move right onto the next thing. There is so much that could have had more time, like what was happening with Jacob’s’ family, the expansion at the church, and Sarah’s recovery. I was really looking forward to some of these aspects after reading the synopsis, and after reading 738 Days which deals with some very difficult topics very well and really took the time to show us as readers what the MC was going through, though that book was about 100 pages longer than this one. So like I said, I had really just hoped for a little bit more time with the characters to get a deeper feeling of Jacob’s recovery and how the other characters were also dealing with everything.
Overall, I really liked this book. It was heartbreaking watching Jacob learn to live without his brother and really interesting to see him question so much about himself. Plus, the religious theme, which I had been worried about, was actually done really well. I hope you guys will consider checking this book out. Also, definitely look into 738 Days, too!! I was pretty surprised by how much that one moved me. I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for more Stacey Kade books!
3 Finished Copies of FOR THIS LIFE ONLY (US Only)