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The Way He Lived

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  340 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
"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
Paperback, 232 pages
Published November 8th 2008 by Flux (first published November 1st 2008)
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Nov 18, 2008 Nikki rated it it was amazing
This book is gorgeous like a peek at someone's soul. Only six someones, since a different narrator tells each part. And each of them is so unique and real, troubled but hopeful, torn but finding ways to mend. I fell in love with each of them, and my admiration for the novel as a whole is tremendous. There are small resolutions noted quietly and questions debated but left for readers to conclude. Nothing big happens but little things matter in big ways. And we get to see Mormonism from the inside ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Dec 03, 2008 Jennifer Wardrip rated it really liked it
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

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 remai
Amy Carr
Sep 08, 2009 Amy Carr rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
I don't know what to say about this book. It was terrible on so many levels. While the author clearly states in an interview at the end of the book that this was intended to be a book for young adults, I can't think of a single adult, much less young adult, that I would recommend this book to. The story deals with 6 latter day saint youth who have just lost a friend/brother in a scouting accident. The book explores how each of them are dealing with the tragedy through each of their different ...more
Feb 11, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
published November 1st 2008 by Flux

details Paperback, 240 pages

isbn 0738714046

Synopsis From Goodreads Six stories. Six voices. One reality.

Monday’s Child has just lost her brother, but that’s not why she’s crazy. Tuesday’s Child is a star and wishes she wasn’t. Wednesday’s Child is obsessed with getting revenge. Thursday’s Child is on a quest to find herself. Friday’s Child is in love with a dead guy, and Saturday’s Child is in love with a guy in gray sweats–who isn’t her boyfriend. And the
Books and Literature for Teens
I'm not really sure what to think of this book exactly. I can't really say I enjoyed it very much frankly because I am still trying to figure out what the point of the story was. Sure Joel's death did change some of people in the book, but there wasn't enough of plot to make the story very meaningful.
There are six different parts to the book in which six different characters talk about their lives before and after Joel's death. I think my favorite characters were Tabbatha and maybe Claire. Of co
Angela Corbett
Nov 01, 2010 Angela Corbett rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! It was so well written and I applaud Emily Wing Smith for writing about an issue that makes people think. I grew up in a small Utah town where 95% of the people in the community were members of the Mormon religion. Emily's version of a small Mormon town and the judgment that happens there is spot on. I also liked how it showed different narrators, their perspectives, and how Joel (the deceased character in the book) affected all of their lives.

***Mild Spoiler Alert***
It's no s
Aug 29, 2009 Katrina rated it really liked it
I think what I liked best about this book is how realistic the characters sounded (in my opinion). I felt as I read through each character's comments that I could honestly imagine someone saying or thinking these things, which works well in a realistic fiction book like this.

I wonder, though, if Joel was as amazing a person as each character described him to be. However, I think this is intentional as generally, when someone dies, especially one so young, people who remember him will tend to rem
Feb 10, 2013 Cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
It's been a while since I've read anything from the genre of young adult fiction, and this was the perfect return. Emily doesn't sugarcoat things or give you answers. In fact, several points are left hanging for the reader to fill in. This can frustrate some, but I personally enjoy the ambiguity throughout her work. An excellent first novel!
Sep 05, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: utah-author
Wow. I wanted more of each of these characters! This reminded me quite a bit of Everything I Never Told You, which I read earlier this year.
Oct 14, 2009 Taylor rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Told from different perspective and it fit together perfectly. I came to love Joel and each character. It was hard to let him go.
Oct 05, 2016 Emily rated it it was ok
Not a totally satisfying ending and I actually enjoyed it more before I read other reviews. I did not get out of the book what others did, and did not think it was about what they did.
Jul 23, 2011 Gretchen rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jed L
Nov 18, 2010 Jed L rated it really liked it
I originally picked up this book because it was written by my friend's sister. Normally I don't read books categorized as "Young Adult" but this one doesn't really fit that mold which is probably why I liked it.

It is written similarly to that of Pablo D'Stair, an author who uses multiple stories from multiple perspectives, each lacking a definite beginning or a solid ending. In this book the story is told by six teens each of whom were related to or friends of Joel, a bright and happy boy who di
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 09, 2011 melissa1lbr rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Things I Liked:
I had a mixed reaction to this book. On the one hand, it really makes you think and wonder how much you can learn about a person through the eyes of others. The book is unique and intriguing in the slow revelation of our main character. I liked that. I also really loved all the connections between the characters. Each one seemed so separate from the others, but they would interact and we would see those little connections revealed as well. It is also very well written and will hav
Jan 07, 2010 Lia rated it it was ok
The strong points of this book were the variety of narrative voices (the story is told from six different points of view) and the unique idea of telling the story of someone's death by taking a slice out of the life of six people who knew him and are now coping with his death.

The weak point was that the author's agenda was obvious in the first chapter, and it was too easy to guess what would happen and why.

Note: The back cover of the book and even the Library of Congress cataloging-in-publicatio
Oct 08, 2009 Jann rated it really liked it
I picked this book simply because my friend wrote it. It did sound a little interesting, but that was my main reasoning. What I found was a great book by a promising author. She writes about Joel Espen through the eyes of the people around him -- after his death on a Scouting trip to the Grand Canyon. Sure, Joel was a very caring and care-taking individual, but did he die knowingly by giving up the last of his water? We get to know Joel through six of those closest to him. His two sisters (one ...more
Sep 18, 2010 Kalli rated it liked it
I first discovered this book when I attended a Children's Literature Conference over a year ago. The author gave a lecture on "voice", and I was intrigued. I bought the book, had her sign it, and it has been sitting on the shelf ever since. I wish I had read it sooner!! I admit, I was skeptical at first, because I knew it was Smith's first novel, and sometimes first novels can be a bit of a tedious experience; however, I have been pleasantly surprised. The characters were believable, the ...more
Kylie Jones
Jun 22, 2012 Kylie Jones rated it did not like it
This book is supposedly all about Joel, it didn't seem like even the author had decided who he really was or why he did what he did. Even if we, as readers, didn't find out, the fact that it seemed like the author didn't even know his story created some major inconsistencies in his character.
The saddest thing about this book though was that the kids were all LDS, yet none of them, even Joel seemed to believe in the most basic doctrines of the Mormon church. It made no sense that not one of them
Debbie Cranberry Fries
For the longest time the only things I knew about this book was that it was about a boy who died on a camping trip and the people who knew him. So when I actually read this book I was surprised to find out that there is nothing actually from the boy who the book was titled after. (I guess I thought we were going to go along with him on the scouting trip and see how he died.) That being said I was nervous to start this book. I wasnt really sure how I was going to like it.

This book is very well d
May 25, 2016 Adrienne rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
When Joel's Scout troop went on a camping trip and didn't bring enough water, Joel gave his water away and died before they reached a water source. Six of the people he left behind, including his two sisters, crush, and best friends, each get a chance to describe how life is for him or her after Joel's death and the emotions swirling inside them--frustration, anger, doubt, and more.

This is a thoroughly though-provoking book about life and death, grief and moving on. At the same time, it's the ti
Dec 03, 2009 Carrie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Older YA
When I picked this book up I had no idea it was going to be about a handful of youth from the ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’. When I discovered this, I was a little leery because I don’t like books that use a single religion to define all its characters. In this book I felt the Mormon religion was disserved.

Okay…the only character that I actually liked was Tabbatha. The others I just didn’t care about. I would have liked a better conclusion. I felt the end was just too choppe
Samantha Hastings
Dec 04, 2008 Samantha Hastings rated it liked it
I have contacted the author for a Library Thingy and she was very nice. I was interested to read her book that was set in Utah in a fictional town called Haven. It is how 6 teens react to the death of a teen named Joel on a scouting trip (died of dehydration). I really enjoyed the first voice of Joel's older sister who blogged her emotions. However, her section was cut short and I felt like it could have used more explaining or Tab's own book. The other sections suffered from the same problem ...more
I wanted to love this book. I did find the format - six different viewpoints about the death of a boy we never meet - and the issues presented to be compelling. I also enjoyed Smith's writing style.

I thought that the story was too abbreviated, however, to actually make the point(s) that it could have made. While I'm fine with open-ended novels as well as some gaps in narrative, there was too much missing here. I was ready for Smith to continue the story with another go-round of the six viewpoint
Enna Isilee
I am not giving this book any stars. Please note that I am not giving this book ZERO stars, I am just giving it NO stars.

How can you assign stars to such a book? There were parts that I said, "Yes! I totally feel that way!" and parts that made me cringe inside, and then there were the parts that just make you think.

I DO NOT reccomend this book to anyone who is easily offended or bored. This story is not fast moving, and brings up a lot of different people's opinions (most of whom are LDS, but no
Jul 08, 2011 Sydney rated it really liked it
Good book! This book had a lot of Morman related things, and I'm not a morman. But my friend is.... Anyways, it was a wonderfully well done book and I read it in like 5 days. I love books that have different views of people, and this was definitely the reason why! It shows how people could view one thing about someone or something completely different from the other person. The three people that stuck to me were Miles, Claire and Nina. Miles was Jesse's (the un-viewed dead main character) best ...more
Jul 12, 2010 Ruth rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
I read this book all in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. It wasn't because it was awesome, though, it was because I was so confused at the way it was all going to work out.

I really didn't like the changing voices. It was an interesting idea, but that style really doesn't appeal to me. The fact that the voices were all teens also drove me crazy - which is why I shouldn't read young adult novels.

All in all, it was good for the type of book that it was, but I didn't care for the storyli
Jul 07, 2010 Karin rated it really liked it
This book made me think. It's written by a local author and the setting is a fictional city somewhere in or near the Salt Lake valley. It's about a boy who dies on a scout hike, but it's told after he's already died through the voices of six teenagers who were affected by his death. It does portray Utahns (and specifically Mormons) as being quite close minded and judgemental. But maybe that's more accurate than we'd like to think. The question comes up in the book as to whether or not Joel is ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Patricia rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it liked it
Shelves: death, mormons
This is one of the five books mentioned in the Oct 7, 2009 School Library Journal article on the depiction of Mormons in recently published young adult literature. Others I've read are The Book of Jude and The Chosen.

Readers learn about recently deceased 16-year-old Joel from the vantage point of two sisters and four friends. In the SLJ article it says, "...discussions cover music, religion, and even sex - at least the thought of it - in authentic teen voices..." That's true, and I think this W
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