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The Life of Glass
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The Life of Glass

4.0 10
by Jillian Cantor

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Before he died, Melissa's father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren't always the most beautiful—that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn't only skin deep, the people around


Before he died, Melissa's father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren't always the most beautiful—that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn't only skin deep, the people around her don't seem to feel that way. There's her gorgeous sister, Ashley, who will barely acknowledge Melissa at school; there's her best friend, Ryan, who may be falling in love with the sophisticated Courtney; and there's Melissa's mother, who's dating someone new, someone Melissa knows will never be able to replace her father.

To make sure she doesn't lose her father completely, Melissa spends her time trying to piece together the last of his secrets and finishing a journal he began—one about love and relationships and the remarkable ways people find one another. But when tragedy strikes, Melissa has to start living and loving in the present as she realizes that being beautiful on the outside doesn't mean you can't be beautiful on the inside.

This is a lyrical tale of love, loss, and self-discovery from the author of The September Sisters.

Editorial Reviews

In Jillian Cantor’s expressive, eloquently rendered coming-of-age novel, the broken-glass motif echoes throughout Melissa’s heartfelt story of love and resilience. Cantor’s pitch-perfect narration and spot-on depiction of emotional turmoil will remind readers of the exquisite fragility of adolescence.
Themes of memory, beauty, and secrets come together in this thoughtful, uplifting book that skillfully avoids Cinderella-tale predictability. What could have been a formulaic tale of adolescent angst is instead a gentle portrait of a girl growing through her grief.
VOYA - Jenna Yee
The Life of Glass is told in first person with a plot that keeps the pages turning. It is a story about the beginnings of high school drama. Melissa learns about the meaning of life through betrayal, hurt, and an old journal. The storyline seems busy at times, but Cantor does a good job of explaining the events. This book is good for people who like a real life story and a touch or drama. Reviewer: Jenna Yee, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Cindy Faughnan
Before Melissa's father died of cancer, he told her many interesting facts such as it takes glass a million years to decay. Two years later, ninth grade is looking difficult at best. Melissa's older sister is obsessed with beauty pageants, her mother has decided to date again, and the new girl, Courtney, is pursuing Melissa's best friend Ryan. At first Melissa is friends with Courtney, but she soon realizes Courtney sees her as a threat. Melissa thought her sister and her sister's relationships were shallow, but after a horseback riding accident her sister is in, she has to change her opinions. A comment made by her grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer's and a note found in her dad's journal lead Melissa on a quest for a mysterious woman. When she finally realizes what everyone has been trying to tell her—that she likes Ryan—she does something about it, leading to a satisfying ending to her ninth grade year. Although this story deals with the grief following the death of her father, it is not filled with sadness. The mystery Melissa creates as she reads her father's journal and tries to figure out who he was, keeps the reader turning the pages. The sibling rivalry between the two sisters is as real as their camaraderie in the face of their mother dating. The book is beautifully written. The scenery in the Arizona desert comes alive along with the love for family and for friends in this novel of self-discovery. Reviewer: Cindy Faughnan
Children's Literature - Joella Peterson
Melissa's father died of cancer a few years ago. Before he died, he taught her many things. For example, her father taught that glass might be easily shattered but it takes a million years to decay. Melissa feels like her life is like that glass—bits and pieces are shattering all around her. At one point, she even says, "Here's something I learned from my father's journal: When glass breaks, the cracks move at a speed greater than three thousand miles per hour. All you had to do was drop it on a hard floor, and it set off this reaction that came so quickly that you couldn't take it back, even if you wanted to." What else is wrong with Melissa's life? Melissa considers herself the ugly duckling of the family. Her beauty-queen sister barely acknowledges her at high school. Ryan, her best friend is falling in love with an attractive classmate whose beauty might be only skin deep. Her mother is starting to date another man, and Melissa is trying to learn about hidden bits and pieces of her father's past while reading his journal. In this captivating journey through grief, family, and love, Melissa does not shy away from taking a hard look at her life or her feelings, providing a great read for anyone who longs for the winning hand when life deals them a bad one. Reviewer: Joella Peterson
School Library Journal
Gr 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
Publishers Weekly
Cantor (The September Sisters) introduces inquisitive 14-year-old Melissa and her somewhat shallow older sister, Ashley, who live in Arizona. A year and a half after their father dies of lung cancer, their mother starts dating again, and Melissa becomes desperate to preserve the memory of her father. She begins reading his journal, which contains family members’ love stories—notes for a book he was writing—and starts creating love stories for her relatives while investigating a woman from her father’s past. Melissa’s emotions are authentically chaotic as she fears losing her best friend, Ryan, to a charming yet insincere new student; feels abandoned by her mother and sister; and has to decipher her true feelings for Ryan when a popular stud takes an interest in her. Melissa’s first-person narrative and pithy remarks (“I always thought that there was one person you were supposed to love.... It had never occurred to me... that my mother was going to look for that love all over again”) are realistic and relatable as she comes to terms with the inevitability—and also the possibilities—of the future. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
High-school freshman Melissa's beloved father has recently died of cancer, leaving her struggling to find her way without his advice and learning how to come to terms with her grief without giving up her memories of him. Her best friend Ryan and their bike rides through a barren canyon are a big help. Her older sister, Ashley, focused on a shallow boyfriend and preening for beauty pageants, and her mother, who has recently started dating-too soon for both sisters-are less helpful, though not always for want of trying. When Ryan falls for glamorous new girl Courtney, Melissa is left to use her father's journal for guidance. His evocative love stories, tales of his romantic relationship and of his parents' early years comfort Melissa as she works to define true love in her own life. Characters are well-realized-even Ashley's seemingly mindless, jock boyfriend briefly steps out of his typecast role. Melissa's first-person narrative rings true, and although the predictable conclusion will surprise no one, the meandering, slow-paced journey is pleasantly satisfying. (Fiction. 11 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.30(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jillian Cantor is the author of two young adult novels, The September Sisters and The Life of Glass. She has an MFA from the University of Arizona and was a recipient of the national Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.

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The Life of Glass 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
Right before her freshman year, Mellissa’s dad passed away from cancer. Now living with her extremely beautiful mom and sister, Mellissa feels like the odd one out. Melissa always had a special connection with her dad, and as the year goes on, she tries to uncover his secret and keep a journal about relationships that he started alive. But things start to change when Melissa’s best friend Ryan starts dating another girl. Will Melissa be able to accept beauty and love into her life? Or will she get lost in the past with her fathers’ secrets and stories? I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, because the characteristics and the thoughts of the characters seem so real, and the story is relatable to real life. I would recommend this book to any girl who enjoys realistic fiction. I would recommend this to girls because not only is the book in a girls perspective, but it deals with lots of topics about beauty and love. Melissa has to deal with her mother, who started dating again, and her sister, who enters in a beauty contest. Also I would recommend this to anyone who likes realistic fiction, because the more you relate the book to your life the more you feel in the story. In the story Melissa deals with her best friend leaving her, everyone can relate to someone leaving you. Also she has to deal with moving on from the past, something she finds hard, but you can really connect to her thoughts.
Gabrielle_Bernal More than 1 year ago
What would you do if all that remained of your father after he passed was a journal that never truly ended? Melissa, the main character in the Life of Glass; faces this task of piecing together the clues from her father’s journal in attempts to keep her father’s presence around. The Life of Glass is a inspiring story and truly captivating. The book deals with the ups and downs of life and the struggles that we all face. The Life of Glass is a realistic fiction novel that can truly relate to the younger teens. The developing story of characters and the mystery will draw you in and you’ll wish it continued more than 352 pages. The Life of Glass is a touching journey of a teenager that is brilliantly written by Jillian Cantor. Throughout this book, Melissa faces the newly daunting task of trying to deal with life without her father while being suspended into freshman year. While her mom and sister are off doing their own things; Melissa chases the questions left behind when she discovers a hidden note inside her father’s journals. Leading you through the mystery and sorrow left behind her father; The Life of Glass is a good read and makes you feel as if you are there with Melissa in her journey. The Life of Glass is a title that can be interpreted many ways before reading. It could relate to the characters, the situation, or even just the smallest details. Jillian Cantor did an amazing job at expressing the feelings of characters and making them feel real. The characters all have their own backstories and are very defined. It truly conveys the struggle of a young girl trying to find her place but yet cope at the same time. The book is written in a fashion which is easily read and understandable. Due to the issues presented in the book many early teens face the same ones making it relatable. The book paints a picture with vivid words and strong descriptions. The story provokes emotions and makes people think about their lives or their situation. It is a wonderful read and will provide you with not only a story but an experience. The story of The Life of Glass will touch you and inspire you like no other. This book is a good read to all ages but connects to younger teens more. This tale of Melissa is a unique story filled with interesting facts her father always harbored. Melissa chases the questions remaining to keep a piece of her dad around like a piece of glass. The bond Melissa has with her father is bound within the seems of a journal and it’s up to her to unravel the mystery through the tale of The Life of Glass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok so all of the reveiws pretty much recap the book. I really dont want to read them. Will someone just tell me if the book is worth the money nad my time. Thanks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some one please help
Trisketagg More than 1 year ago
Warnings, before reading this, please do take in that this review does have spoilers that could potentially ruin your chances of reading this book. This book revolves around a girl named Melissa McAllister who struggles to see the true beauty within her. With her sister Ashley and her mother being the most beautiful girls she has ever witnessed, she has a hard time seeing the beauty reflected on her outside features. During the summer of transitioning from junior high to high school, Melissa's father dies due to cancer. Throughout the book she struggles to let go of the loss of her father, but over time her boyfriend helps her to let go. From a girl left in pain and stuck in misery, Melissa realizes that her beauty has always been there inside her and that holding on to her father's death was the last thing her father would want her to be doing. What I really enjoyed from this book is that it was an easy read, but it's wasn't too painfully easy where you would come to the point of putting the book down and returning it to the library. I also liked how I could look back on my freshman year and be able to relate to the main characters struggles and confusion on so many different levels. The major moral or theme of this story was about overcoming the doubts about one's true beauty and accepting themselves for who they are. This is why I could relate to the main character on so many levels because up to today, I'm still struggling to find myself. Also as a girl, I still have insecurities and doubts that I worry about on daily basis but I'm gradually learning on how to let go of those worries and accepting towards who I am. Overall, this book can be relatable to many teenager girls and it shows that you do have the capability of accepting yourself for who you are.
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