"It’s a testament to Smith’s skills that although her central character speaks only through other people’s recollections, his identity emerges distinctly by the end of the novel."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Winner of the 2009 Utah Book Award (young adult category)
Sometimes being true to yourself means sacrificing everything...
Joel Espen could never be who he really was in the small town of Haven. Still, there was always something different about him. Sixteen years old. Green eyes that could see right into your heart. A selfless need to save people. Even the way he died reflected the way he lived: helping others. But how are you supposed to just go on living like normal after suddenly losing your brother . . . your best friend . . . your first love?
As the six teens who were closest to Joel try to find the meaning behind his death, they begin to realize that tragedy can sometimes set you freeby revealing who you truly are.
|Publisher:||North Star Editions|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Emily Wing Smith (Utah) has been published in writing anthologies and won the David O. McKay essay contest while attending Brigham Young University. Her writing has also appeared in popular magazines for children and young adults. She holds an MFA from Vermont College.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book makes me cry everytime i read it. The real Joey was from Bountiful Utah and he really did die in the grand canyon from dehydration. The writer (i've met her) said she moved to Bountiful shortly after the boy died. She was amazed that this boy, in such a clique based town, was part of almost every clique. This book is about the people in Bountiful that were part of "Joey's" life and some of the people that missed him most. I loved reading this book and i plan on reading it again and again. The only part i hate is that it makes me cry.
I found this book to be lyrical, bittersweet, and entertaining. A previous reviewer thought it was messy; I found it refreshing that not everything wrapped up perfectly and that the themes are not hammered over the reader's head. As a reader I found it rewarding to discover the ways the characters are linked to each other and the character who has died---the connections are subtle, not messy, and in my opinion, weaved together brilliantly. I also found the characters' ways of coping with the grief satisfying and believable, not "whiney," as the first reviewer said. Granted, this book is not for everyone; if you generally go for light and entertaining reads that follow a traditional plot arc, you might be disappointed in this book. The Way He Lived is a collection of tightly related short stories that as a whole paint a bigger picture, and the core of the stories is emotion, not fast-paced action. I disagree that there is anything "improper" in this book, only raw honesty that has the capacity to make some people uncomfortable but for others it will invoke empathy. For readers who relish stepping into other people's shoes and considering the weight of their secret pain, or readers who have experienced similar grief, this book will resonate. It did with me.
I loved this book. The characters seemd very real and I found it very easy to relate to each of them.
Given that this book is told from 6 different points of view, I think the author did a great job giving them each a distinct voice, and they each have their own story to tell. They all have their own way of dealing with death and loss and I think just about everyone out there can identify with one (or more) of them.
And there is a sense of mystery that unfolds throughout the book and totally kept my attention -- who is Joel ... really? did he commit suicide, or was it really a freak accident? was he gay, did he KNOW if he was gay? and if he was, did anyone else know?
The other thing I loved about this book -- it was so accurate when it came to the oddities in the Mormon culture, and yet it didn't shy away from some of the major issues that are often "taboo." For this very reason, I'm sure not everyone in Utah will love it, but I certainly did.
THE WAY HE LIVED is about Joel, only Joel isn't around anymore. He died in a tragic camping accident. Those left behind are trying to make sense of it all and decide how to continue on without him.
Written from six different points of view, it reveals Joel piece by piece. His sisters, Tabbatha and Claire, tell what life is like for them since his death. Both are confused that their parents chose this difficult time to move the remaining family from the house where they grew up to a luxurious seven bedroom home in the high-end part of town. Their father throws himself into his work, and their mother, who always had her "bad days," seems to only find solace by locking herself away in her room and letting the family muddle on without her.
Emotionally sensitive Tabbatha gradually finds a reason to slowly move on toward a possible college life, and Claire has to run away before she is ready to come back and face what is left behind.
The other voices of the novel belong to Joel's friends and acquaintances. They include Adlen, Miles, Norah, and Lissa. Their stories link to Joel through direct personal relationships or by way of others connected to him. Each person has their version of this respected but slightly mysterious individual.
Much like our own lives, each person presents a unique picture to each different person with whom we connect. Can a true picture ever be created of anyone after they are gone? It seems only you might know the real you.
Emily Wing Smith is able to capture each personality. The flow and tone of each chapter is unique to the individual. She presents their pain and their fear of moving on without this missing person who so touched their lives. There is a feeling of true loss and sadness, but it is coupled with hope and the human desire to carry on.
I found this book at the bookstore and bought it because the author is a local writer. The story caught my attention immediately and held it through the entire book. The writing is superb. She has such a skillful way of capturing the culture in Utah. Most notable is the way she is able to divulge and bring such depth to Joel Espen, the main character, even though he is never actually in the book. This book is beautiful. I hope it wins awards, and I highly recommend this book to both teenagers and adults.
I love this book. The writing is strong, sparse, poetic, and beautiful. The author takes risks with style and voice that pay off wonderfully--and is in no way "messy." This book is made up of six short stories told from six diverse but equally strong voices. Each story has its own emotional development and climax, but each story fits together into a larger story that reveals who Joel Espin was and why he did the the things he did. This book poses a few interesting and thought-provoking questions without handing the reader the answers on a silver platter (nor by hammering them over the head.) Very well done.
The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith*
Publication Date: November 2008
2 out of 5 stars
The whole community of haven is effected when sixteen year old Joel Espen dies unexpectedly of dehydration during a Boy Scout hiking trip. Joel was the ¿nice guy¿ in the neighborhood. The good guy who was always trying to save the day. He was now gone. The Way He Lived is told through six different perspectives who each have to deal with the lost of Joel and how they hope to move on.
I tried extremely hard to like this book. I even attempted to overlook the frequent comments about homosexuality and other improper matters brought up, but I still disliked the book. This book was a confusing mess of jagged edges without any pin point meaning. The Way He Lived was anything but well rounded. Unfortunately this book wasn¿t much of a book. I don¿t believe it was the author¿s intention but this book was just a mass of random thoughts at random moments that was uninteresting and most often confusing. Maybe if I was an actual character in the book I would understand what the ¿deep meaning¿ in the character¿s ¿moving on¿ actions really meant. But to me, the reader, it was just a jumble of improper nonsense and annoying regularity of self-pitying characters. I did not enjoy reading The Way He Lived.
Date Reviewed: October 25th, 2008