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The Way He Lived

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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  275 ratings  ·  77 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
...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published November 8th 2008 by Flux (first published November 1st 2008)
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118th out of 728 books — 354 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 709)
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Amy Carr
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 "vo ...more
Nikki
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
Heather
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
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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
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

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
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Katrina
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
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Cat
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!
Taylor
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.
Angela Corbett
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
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Lia
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
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Gretchen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
melissa1lbr
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
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Jed L
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
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Kalli
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 dialogu ...more
Jann
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 o ...more
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
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Kylie Jones
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
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Adrienne
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
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Carrie
Dec 03, 2009 Carrie rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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Enna Isilee (Squeaky Books)
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
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Samantha Hastings
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 fo ...more
alisonwonderland
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
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Ruth
Jul 12, 2010 Ruth rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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Emily
The major theme of this book was not what I was expecting. The review given to me when it was recommended on a blog was that of an LDS author writing about a group of teenagers who had lost a friend to dehydration on a scout trip. I expected an interesting look at grief where a small Mormon community was simply a backdrop and not the main event. Well, a whole other theme came screaming at me and I was totally surprised. (Telling you what that theme was, however, would kind of spoil it...sorry.) ...more
Sydney
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 f ...more
Karin
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 ga ...more
Kelly
Why does a book that has mormon characters have to be "Mormon Literature" and every character is expected to be teaching a moral lesson and setting an example of either pure white or solid black. Mormons are normal people too. This book was about the psychology and emotions of being a mormon teen in a mormon community. It was about the grey stuff. It wasn't about the doctrine. The characters are well crafted, quirky and unique - each with a very different voice. Well written and entertaining. Bu ...more
Kelly Hager
Joel died at the age of 16, on a hike through the Grand Canyon. He gave his water to the others and died as a result. This story is told through six perspectives---his sisters, best friend, best friend's girlfriend, would-be girlfriend and former debate partner---and how each of them deal with losing him. (Some deal better than others; in some chapters, Joel's hardly felt at all.)

I think I would've liked this book more if I hadn't read it immediately after her other book, Back When You Were Eas
...more
Patricia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Duane
Done through the views of friends who each are struggling with the loss of a friend, Joel, we see how he made a impact on each one of them in such a different way. I enjoyed how the author didn't reveal the real Joel through the entire book. It's up to the reader to decipher who Joel was and really like by the ramblings of the people who miss him. The author does a great job of making sure there are different character types in the book so it seems so much more real then just having your normal ...more
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