Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Speed of Life

Publish October 7, 2016

Eighteen-year-old twins Crystal and Amber Robbins share everything – their looks, their converted garage “bedroom,” and the 1969 Mustang Fastback that Crystal is restoring. When an unexpected pregnancy threatens to derail their hopes for the future, the sisters make a plan: they will share childcare responsibilities, finish high school, and save every penny from their after-school jobs in order to move away from their rundown neighbourhood and deadbeat parents after graduation. When Crystal learns about a college program in Kansas that specializes in car restoration, she ignores her deal with Amber and applies – only to be accepted with a full scholarship. The four years of training will mean a different life for the girls. Crystal could open her own business, and she and Amber could have a real home, buy baby Natalie new clothes, and never worry about having enough money to pay the bills. But Amber has been promised part ownership of her aunt’s restaurant in Portland and Crystal can’t imagine four years in Kansas without Amber and the baby she has grown to adore. In J.M. Kelly’s latest YA novel, Speed of Life, Crystal Robbins must make an impossible decision: her family or her future. With a light touch and evident respect for resourcefulness of her characters, Kelly paints a realistic, yet hopeful portrait of life after a teenaged pregnancy. Details about tight money, crazy schedules, and unfair treatment highlight the socio-economic hardships that trap teen parents in poverty. However, Crystal Robbins is not a typical teenager, and Speed of Life is not a typical teen romance. With a surprise revelation at the end, readers will want to go back for a reread.

Speed of Life

J.M. Kelly
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN 13: 978-0-544-74782-1

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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