I received this book for free from Rain Coast Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Title: Speed of Life
Author: J.M Kelly
Song: Way Down We Go by Kaleo
Published: October 11th, 2016 # of Pages: 352
Date Started: October 13th, 2016 Date Ended: October 13th, 2016
Category: Fiction, Contemporary
“Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by.
Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies—and gets in—new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay behind and honor the promise she made to her sister.
Feminist readers in particular will appreciate this strong young woman who doesn’t conform to gender norms.. -Kirkus”
The plot was absolutely amazing. It really hit home for me because we live in a world where getting pregnant in high school is a bad thing. Now I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but I feel as if we should be supporting the girls and guys instead of throwing them out on the streets. I know so many good kids who were thrown out after having a baby, left to fend for themselves. Where others have been welcomed with open arms with love and support. This book shows the growth of our main characters so beautifully that it made me cry. The opening gave up a glimpse of the life our main characters had before their current situation. Interesting enough about the opening was, that you don’t know which sister is talking to who. It’s quite mysterious to say the least. This opening lead to how the main characters where in the present time. Their life’s with the baby and how they managed school and such. It was quite interesting. Especially once we got to the drama, secrets and the lies that came in the rising action. It all happened when Crystal lied to her sister about applying for University. And it all spiralled out of control after that, causing chaos in their “plan”. Which led up to one of the most uncalled for events in history, which was the Climax. And let me tell you, the PLOT TWIST AT THAT PART KILLED ME. Seriously, I did not see that coming. And as soon as the main character figured it out, I figured it out at the same time and freaked out. It was intense and definitely full of drama and raw emotions. Along with a secret/memory that was pushed away that came to the surface. The falling action was just as dramatic and emotional; I know for a fact that I cried during the one part where the main characters made up. (Made up from what I will not say, you must go read it to find out) all of this emotion got bottled up and then let loose at the conclusion. In which I am not afraid to say I cried like a baby. It hit close to home the end, mostly with what happens and moving on. (I’m sure you’ve all felt the sadness that comes with this type of event at least once in your life.) it was so inspiring and heart melting that I just couldn’t handle it. THE FEELS HIT ME HARD GUYS. SO HARD. I loved how it was going, and those PLOT TWISTS. Oh I swear if you are questioning reading this book, just read it for its amazing plot twists and emotions. JUST DO IT.
The characters on the other hand where completely different. They where so full of emotion and they all grew and developed spectacularly that I just have to applaud the author. I loved them all and the raw emotion they had for one another was very evident throughout the story. No matter if what they chose to do was wrong or not, they did it because they wanted to do what’s right. And that’s what I loved about them. First we had our two or should I say three main characters. Crystal and Amber, these two identical twin sisters made a deal, a plan if you will. That they would raise their baby together, no matter what. Sure they may look alike, but their attitudes are different along with the way they act. Their bickering and arguments even prove they aren’t alike and that they’re sisters. Because come on, what sisters don’t fight? Am I right? Crystal is the smart one who wants to stick to the plan until she wants to go to university. She’s loving, caring, passionate about cars, and overall just really badass. Where Amber is the crazy one in a way. She wants to work and raise their child where they are. She is passionate, loving, caring, supportive, and sometimes a bitch. But a badass on at that, who sometimes finds herself in trouble. Then we have our little bundle of joy, Natalie. Crystal and Ambers baby, the one they swore to protect and raise together. She is the sunshine and the rain in these two characters’ lives. She represents the hope and love in their relationship. One that can only be there because of this little baby. She is so adorable and I love the way the author wrote about her. (I kind of wish I had a Natalie right now, she’s just that cute) Besides these three characters, we also had our male lead(s). In this case it’s fairly hard to decided which one of these two boys is the male lead. If anything they would both be supporting but they are both special and deserve to be mentioned. First we had Daniel, a rich boy who’s the nephew of Jimmy, Crystals boss. He works at the car shop with her and they get to know each other. And that they both love cars. He is bold, smart, cocky, caring, and a good friend. Daniel is definitely someone you want on your side. With him we also have Han. Han is Crystals best friend. He is always there for her Amber and Natalie. Anything they need, he’ll go find it for them. He’s kind, caring, intelligent, fun, and responsible (in more ways than one). Now besides these main characters, we also had the supporting characters. They are key elements in this story because without them, the story wouldn’t be the same. Aunt Ruby, the owner of the Glass Slipper, the place where Amber works. Jade and Teddy, these two are family to Crystal and Amber or at least Jade is. And then we had their parents and finally Ms. Spellerman, the lady who gave Crystal the University papers. Without all of these characters along with the others I didn’t mention, this book wouldn’t have been as emotion and heart melting as it was. These characters truly have it life and I loved every moment of it. Honest.
I HIGHLY recommend that you all go buy this book and read it. It’s so beautiful and the story itself had me in tears and left speechless. It was amazing to read and I am honoured to have been able to read it for the blog tour.
Congratulations J.M. Kelly on writing an absolutely stunning novel about family, love, and growing up. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Guest Post from J.M Kelly
Shake It Up, Baby!
by J.M. Kelly
Everywhere you go online are lists, blog posts, and articles about how to overcome writer’s block or free up your muse. Most of them include things like writing sprints, going for a walks, or just sitting at your desk for an allotted amount of time every day. These are all good ideas and most writers use them at some point in their careers whether they’re just starting out or have been at it for a while.
But the thing about most of these tips is they’re directly related to writing in some way. You’re still focusing on doing something to get yourself into the “zone” when what you might need is to get as far away from story, the written word, and the business of writing as you can. Here are five non-writing-related things to try to spark your imagination, fire up your inspiration, and shake things loose.
Before you start, shut off the computer and TV, leave the podcasts for later, and if you can’t turn it off, at least put your phone in another room. All of these ideas require anywhere from several hours to many hours, but don’t think of that as lost writing time, think of it as investment in your craft.
1. Make bread from scratch – none of that hands-off slow rise, plain white bread this time. Choose a recipe chock full of ingredients you have to carefully measure out. And if you have to actually go to the store for them, even better. Use that dusty mixer you’re storing most of the time, or put some muscle into it and mix the dough up by hand (no bread machines allowed!). While it’s rising, measure out the dry ingredients for several more loaves and bag them up so you have them ready to go. Or make lemon curd. Or just sit and watch it rise. Punching down the risen dough is a great way to excise some of that writing frustration, too. Make a hearty soup during the second rise/baking and you’ll have a lovely meal when the bread comes hot out of the oven. Doesn’t your house smell good? Wasn’t that fun? Is that flour on your nose?
2. Learn something new: Last year, I signed up for ice skating lessons at the local rec center. Inexpensive, once a week, and something that definitely took all of my attention and focus. Think back to your childhood and try to remember what you loved to do but have abandoned, or what you always meant to try. Is there a ballerina lurking in you? A carpenter? A member of a choir? Let her out! Don’t sign up for a class that you think you should take, or that might be useful, take a frivolous one. And one that scares you is even better.
3. Have a childhood day: Take a bit of time to make a list of all the things you loved doing as a kid. Now plan an afternoon or day that incorporates them. Don’t forget the treats, either. When I did this, I ended up riding my bike to the convenience store, buying a 7-up and red licorice (two things I never eat or drink anymore), then riding to the grade school and swinging on the swings while I had my snack. It transported me to the fifth grade when I used to do that with my friend Kathy almost every summer day. And it filled me with childhood contentment and memories, too.
4. Stay up all night: Watch movies, eat popcorn, call a friend in another time zone who is still up, or get a sibling or spouse to do it with you. If you’ve got kids, ask them to stay up too. They’ll be thrilled, but they’ll undoubtedly fall asleep eventually and you’ll get to pick all the movies. If you live in the city, go out for ice cream at midnight, or order a pizza at two in the morning. If your town’s too small for that, bake cookies after hours. Don’t forget to watch the sunset and the sunrise. Yeah, the next day will be a groggy one, but it’s worth it. Setting up the tent or sleeping bags on the lawn makes this even more fun.
5. Play the tourist: Take a tour of your own city from a tour guide or sign up for a bus tour to get a different perspective of the places you think you know. You’ll undoubtedly learn something new and probably meet a few people. Historical Societies often give tours which might be of interest, and when I did one, I met a lot of fascinating seniors and heard some great stories about growing up in my city. Or check out community colleges for day and overnight excursions to interesting artistic destinations as part of their adult education programming.
It’s really easy to give ourselves a hard time for not writing, especially if you have limited hours for doing it, but if you’re truly stuck for ideas, the chances are that forcing yourself to sit in front of your computer, or taking a twenty minute walk probably won’t help you anyway. Don’t be afraid to shake up your life a little…be afraid not to.
Hold her for a minuet.
I don’t want to.
She needs you. (opening)
I’m pretty sure our schools new guidance councilor’s got a college degree in “perky” with a minor in “enthusiasm.” (page 24)
I need you to train David tonight.
Why me? Why not Raul?
David doesn’t speak Spanish.
I don’t speak rich boy. (page 44)
God. I’m such a fuck-up. I can’t even drop out of high school right. (page 210)
Our future stretches out in front of us and for the first time in my entire live, I’m looking forward to it. (page 340)