Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
It’s impossible to focus on college biology when your family believes doomsday is imminent and the government is out to get you.

All Pete Wilson’s ever wanted is to become a veterinarian, but those dreams are going up in flames. Commuting to an urban college and helping his parents with their apocalyptic prepper crap is more than he can handle.

Worse, Pete’s asshole neighbor is stirring up trouble, his family’s stockpile has been destroyed and farm animals are turning up dead.

Lindsey Linger is the tomboy sister of his best friend. Now a sexy spitfire, she and Pete are liable to set the barn ablaze as their romance finally heats up. But she’s hiding a terrible secret, and rural life isn’t all bonfires and hayloft romps. That becomes clear one icy winter night when the survival of everyone Pete loves hangs in the balance.

Can Pete be the hero they need, or will this be the end of the world as he knows it?

*Mature situations and sexual content - recommended for ages 17+*

338 pages, Paperback

First published November 29, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Stephanie Lawton

6 books151 followers
Always a misfit, Stephanie Lawton writes twisted romance that tugs the heart strings then punches you in the gut.

She has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles. She has a fascination with teacher-student relationships, bullies, psychics, doomsday preppers and larger-than-life characters.

Making readers squirm is her greatest pleasure.

Proceed with caution.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
24 (40%)
4 stars
18 (30%)
3 stars
9 (15%)
2 stars
8 (13%)
1 star
1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Tracey.
632 reviews470 followers
December 8, 2013
"Why are you such a bitch?"
"Why are you such a coward?"
She's delivered a pitchfork to my heart.
I'm all of these things.
But most of all, I'm ashamed.

I've had a bit of a problem with the last few books that I've read. It's taken me a little while to get into them. Shelf Life was no different. I don't think it was any fault with the story. I found myself just following along, but not being taken in by it. But somewhere along the way, and I'm not even sure at what point, I was hooked by the everything that was unfolding in front of my eyes. It somehow went from there seeming to be quite slow moving with not a whole lot going on to there being so much happening.

Pete Wilson's family is unconventional. His father is a returned serviceman who is preparing them for the doomsday. And they run an almost self sufficient farm, growing, producing and making everything they need to get by. Besides the chores that Pete has around the farm, he is just about to start college, working his way towards becoming a Veterinarian. He has a great friendship with his best friend Lewis and has strong feelings for Lewis's sister Lindsey, who has hung out with them since they were kids. Pete's school life has been tough. It's been plagued by the constant bullying of the school jock Jay. After an incredibly twisted incident at a local party, Pete's whole world as he knows it falls apart. He's not at all prepared for the changes and will be faced with some choices and decisions along the way to growing up and becoming a man.

Realistic YA is quite possibly my most favourite to read and Stephanie Lawton's Shelf Life was so full of the realities of life. There is so much family dysfunction throughout the story. Parents who are not fit to be parents, kids who have no experience with familial love, bullying, both verbal and physical abuse, sex, drugs and drinking. But there is also friendship, realising the goodness of family, sacrifices, growth, and a most beautiful love.


Pete grew so much throughout this book, and as he did, my respect grew right along with him. He proved to be so much more than what I thought he could be. He really showed what a good heart he has and when things were falling apart, he stood tall to do whatever he could to fix them. His love for Lindsey was amazing, and I really hope that we see lots more of their developing relationship in the next book.

For about the last third of the book, and I can't even be sure if it was from that point exactly, because I didn't even check my progress on my kindle but there I was, completely entrenched in the life of Pete and all of those around him. The chain of events that were occurring towards the end of the book were just coming at me so crazy fast. It was like a whirlwind picking things up and spitting them out, but I never could have predicted the impact it was all going to have.

I have so many things that I need to have answers to. When I finished reading Shelf Life, I had forgotten that it was only the first book in the series, and now I can't wait to see how the ramifications of all that happened in this book will play out.

Despite having not read anything by Stephanie Lawton before, I was really impressed with the ease of her writing and the depth of her characters. I can guarantee that this won't be the last book I read by her.

4.5/5 Pete Wilson, Growing Up Stars
Profile Image for Jess at Such a Novel Idea.
597 reviews178 followers
December 6, 2013
For this review and more, visit Such a Novel Idea.

3.5/5 stars

I think this is the time I should share something awkward from my past. My mom was one of those people who had a closet of stuff packed away in case Y2K happened. I now realize most of my younger readers probably don't even understand that reference, but there it is. I remember buying stuff and not being able to eat it because it had to go in storage. It's probably now why I feel like I accomplish something when I clear the cabinets out. Anyways, that was the main reason I chose to be on this tour. Reading the synopsis, I had an instant connection with Pete.

I'd never heard of Stephanie Lawton's books. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. This book bowled me over. IN a good way. It was nothing like I was expecting it to be. It was SO much more. Yeah, his family has a bunker and they are prepping for doomsday, but with the Walking Dead, the popularity of dystopian novels, and reality tv shows teaching you to survive in the wild, that part was the least intense of this book. Except maybe when they did the drills. Drills like "let's pretend the world has come to an end and we are going to practice our game plan." Obviously, it is incredibly smart, IF such a thing happens, but it left me a little bug-eyed for sure.

I have to warn you this book goes there. Like Degrassi in the early 2000's, Lawton is not afraid to make some bold choices. I had this face O_O a lot. A LOT.

I also felt like an adult, especially in the beginning of the book. Even though I'm 29 and married and a mom, I still tend to relate to the protags in my books. I remember what it was like to be that age, and really, some days I don't feel like I've gotten that far from those feelings. But these kids... they were making some kid choices. And I couldn't stop YELLING at them to just not do that. It made me feel old. And sad, because they had some terrible things to go through.

Going through this story with Pete was one of the more unique experiences I've had with a male POV. It was gritty and raw, nothing like Beautiful Creatures or many other similar guy-led books. Pete grew right before our eyes.

And Jay, the bully of the book. The boy is seriously messed up and even understanding his back story, I still had no sympathy for him. I wanted to pummel the guy Buffy Summers style. Basically, he was working his way up to serial killer status AND he needs a sex offender status.

Most of all, THIS is the type of NA I want to be reading. You've got quote unquote normal people, dealing with tough issues, growing from them. Yes there is some sex and yes there is some romance, but it isn't the point of the book. There is so much more to be said and understood here. Even though the issues are disturbing at times, there is a lot of value to what was said.
Profile Image for Rachmi .
929 reviews77 followers
Want to read
August 20, 2013
Another book from Stephanie Lawton? hell yeah...I think I will read anything from her but it reminds me that I haven't read Shrapnel and Need yet. Guess I'm going to have Stephanie Lawton books marathon soon :D
Profile Image for Sasha Hibbs.
Author 9 books175 followers
December 12, 2013
My reading preferences generally are steeped in all things paranormal. With that said, Shelf Life was truly something fresh, original and right now my favorite gem! After reading Stephanie Lawton’s novel, I’ll be more receptive to novels outside my normal genre, but after devouring this jewel, I think other novels will struggle to measure up against Shelf Life.

As a LOVER of Gone With the Wind, I absolutely adored the names of the cows. I smiled every time Pete had his conversations with one of the girls. Living in rural WV I also found myself paying keen attention to the farm life theme throughout the novel and was overjoyed at the justice Mrs. Lawton brought to the struggles of living on a farm. It’s not for the fainthearted, and boy does our main guy, Pete Wilson, put new meaning into stepping up and becoming a man.

For me, Shelf Life, was a coming-of-age story beautifully detailed from Pete growing out of the last remnants of his youth into taking charge and stepping up in the face of family adversity and becoming a man. I absolutely revered him!

Few novels play out like a movie for me, but Shelf Life did. I could truly picture each character, the setting, their homes, every aspect of their lives. Shelf Life was moving in an epic way. I smiled at the budding relationship between Pete and Lindsey, and then found myself fully immersed in their world when I realized there wasn’t a budding relationship, but something so much more profound between the two. I don’t want to spoil the delight for any readers regarding those two…you have to read to truly feel the effects of growing with them in their test to find each other again and again regardless of the situations that tear them apart and the situations that bring them back together.

Pete’s parents were amazing and admirable. Sarah was your typical teenager longing for more than the farm life she was dealt, but the twists with her story added to the depth of her character and made me feel for her.

And Jay…oh my. I wanted to reach into my Kindle and rip him from the screen and beat him a whole 18 years worth of spankings he apparently missed growing up, but then Mrs. Lawton threw me off, sucked me in, and reminded me that most of the time in life, you cannot judge a book by its cover. I hated Jay, I pitied Jay, and eventually my heart broke for Jay.

As a collective whole, Shelf Life was an amazing read. I am anxious for book 2 in this series. I want to find out more about the Leaher’s, Lindsey, Lewis, Pete, Sarah, the Wilson’s, and I wanted to mention too, that I love Evan. I want to read more about him and hope that he makes another appearance somewhere in this series again.
Profile Image for Annabelle Blume.
Author 11 books41 followers
December 3, 2013
I was already a fan of Lawton’s previous works, but I’m truly enamored with her most recent New Adult novel Shelf Life is a painfully beautiful coming of age story that hits hard and peels back the layers of what it means to be a “grown up”.

Pete is easy to love; a guy who’s honest and true, even if he’s a little naive and a lot stubborn. The way Lawton handles his evolution from high school boy to college man is seamless. This is something the author has shown a talent for easing her readers through character growth in her previous work and I was pleased to see her deft handling of the transition in this tale as well.

I enjoyed the way Lawton walked us through the unusual life of Doomsday Preppers in our modern world. Her descriptions of Pete’s life on the farm are rich and winsome. Their sharp contrast to his experiences at the local community college help paint an even more vivid picture of the backbreaking yet beautiful life with his parents.

His relationship with Lindsey is as confusing and frustrating and scintillating as relationships truly are at the tender age of eighteen. And though their love isn’t the main storyline in this book, I’m hoping to see more of them together in the next book in the series.

The end is rough, and I’m not being exaggerative. It’s a fast-paced whirlwind of dramatic events that leave you breathless. Though there is one piece of the end I have sworn not to forgive (I will not spoiler it, just, *sob*), I eagerly await the continuation of Pete’s story in the next installment.
Profile Image for Tee loves Kyle Jacobson.
2,471 reviews169 followers
December 5, 2013
Shelf Life is one of those books that catches you by surprise. You think you know what you are going to read and then WHAM it is totally something different. I have to say that I started reading this book and could not do anything else until I finished the book. This is one of those books that leaves you wondering about the end times and what is going to happen and if we are really prepared for that day to come.

Pete is just trying to live life and help his family out. He is buying his time until he goes to college. His family is on this thing about preparing for doomsday and making sure everything is all set for the end days where they can survive. But things are not always what they seem and things start to go awry and Pete gets help from his neighbors sister Lindsey.

The two of them start this friendship that turns into so much more because things start to happen and the only person there for him is Lindsey. Can the two of them survive what is going on or will they end up caught up in the mess?

This book had me thinking about some crazy things and I kept thinking to myself how prepared are people for the end? Will they have enough food to survive or drink, how will they provide for their families and what do you really need to pack away and save for such a disaster if it ever comes? Stephanie thanks for this great read that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time wondering what Pete was going to do!
Profile Image for Israel.
Author 4 books10 followers
November 15, 2013
Shelf-Life is a one of a kind. With our world captivated with the end of the world (i.e. books, shows, reality shows, websites) this book takes a realistic look at what it takes, and means, to survive. Cloaked in fantastic story is a subtle warning about real preparation that's so well done you don't even realized you learned something until the story ends and your brain catches up to your rapidly beating heart.

Pete, the protagonist, a boy shedding his teenage angst and preparing for college finds himself with a newfound world of choices. Some of us have been there too, Pete.

In short, Stephanie Lawton's Shelf-Life is a smooth read and the authors talent to take the reader on a journey that keeps you turning the page is unmatched. I honestly started and didn't realize I'd read 3/4 of the story until my wife came in asked when I was going to mow the lawn.

Wildly real, wildly entertaining, and just plan wild, Shelf-Life is the perfect fall/winter read that'll keep you on your tippy-toes and will ultimately have you asking yourself one question. Am I prepared enough?
Profile Image for Jodee.
160 reviews
January 10, 2014
First off I entered the giveaway for this book and was so excited that I was one of the few to get picked to recieve a first read. Wow . I totally love this book. There is so many parts to this book that are live changing for the characters in Shelf Life. Pete Wilson is trying to focus on college and help on his family's farm and dealing with his parent's who are just waiting for doomsday to happen esp his dad. Their neighbor's son is stirring up trouble with him and his sister.Peter's two best friend Lewis and Lindsey Linger are struggling to deal with the moments were Pete should have stood up for his friends. All of this is way more than Pete can handle All of this comes to a point on a icy winter night the surival of everyone that Pete loves hang in balance and you wonder can Pete handle this or it is really the end. I have to say I loved the conversatons that Pete has with the Girls( Ashley,Katie and Scarlett) I won't tell you who they are. You need to read this book. Great Work. Stephanie Lawton. Are you Prepared?
Profile Image for Book Junky Girls.
840 reviews34 followers
November 6, 2013
Pete has graduated high school and is starting out college while still living at home working on the farm. His parents are extremeists who think a civil war is coming and that they need to be prepaired and self sufficient. Life is hard and growing up is harder, learning about the real world and what he's never seen even though it was right in front of him is making things tough but he's trying. With conspiries, drugs, and even a few rolls in the hay he's just trying to get through life the best he can, for himself and his family.

Interesting story and told solely from a male POV. It's about growing up and making the tough choices as an adult and living with the consequences. It's was fun watching Pete try and make his way through everything and learn about life and whats really important. It's not our normal type of read, but it was fun none the less and of course there's still a bit of romance in there to help balance it out.
February 8, 2014
I thought that no doubt about it, that Stephine Lawton, is going to be the new all time best seller.
I honestly looooved this book. Loved the way it keep me up at night thinking what will happen next, and how it got me in trouble in class, because I would sneak it under my desk and read during class.
The imagery was so amazing i actually felt that I was one of the charachters in the books my self.
I couldn't stand that I could not met these charachters in reality, I loved all the characters, and their stories, the dialouge kept me pulled in into the wee hours of the night. I would love for there to be a book #2, so i can experince and see what will happen next, i defintley give this book 9 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Cami .
68 reviews
September 1, 2014
Love, humiliation, and lost friendship is a lot to handle after graduating

Thinking he is finally free after graduation, Pete realizes that the bully who's tortured him all through school won't go away. At the graduation party Jay pulls a passed out Lewis into the cow barn and let's the entire school watch him get his dick sucked by a calf. Then he finds his sister half naked in the orchard with Jay's hands down her pants...can it get worse? Yes it can. Lewis won't speak to him, his family farm animals are being killed and the bunker is broken into and all their doomsday preparations are destroyed. free download
Profile Image for Tiea Gaudren.
3 reviews
January 6, 2014
I'm a huge fan of Stephanie Lawton's writing, and this book is by far my favorite! Never a dull moment as Pete, a kid who just wants to live a normal life, finds himself smack dab in the middle of a storm of events that rock his foundation, tests his faith, and turns a boy into a man before your very eyes. This is one of those books that makes you say, "this would make a great movie!" It's THAT good!
Profile Image for Kim.
6 reviews
December 15, 2013
Fantastic 'new adult' novel! Stephanie truly has a gift for writing interesting & complex characters, while bringing to light serious subjects facing both teens & young adults. Given the way she expertly tackles tough subject matters & presents them flawlessly through the eyes of a teenager, I am convinced she is this generation's Judy Blume.
Profile Image for Mitchii.
802 reviews258 followers
Want to read
August 4, 2013
I'll read anything by Stephanie Lawton! Woooo! *happy panda dance*
Profile Image for Emily Elizabeth.
478 reviews766 followers
January 20, 2014
Shelf Life did not end up being anything like I'd expected it to be. You may assume that due to the brighter colors of the beautiful cover and the not-so-angst-ridden synopsis that this is a generally light-hearted novel. You know what they say about people who assume though, right? Plus it's Stephanie Lawton that we're talking about here, so light-heartedness? Who are we kidding?

This novel is about a boy named Pete Wilson, who is entering college after his not-so-great of a high school experience in his rural Ohioan town. Now his best friends have deserted him after a horrible drunken incident at a party, and his parents are struggling to keep their farm afloat. Shelf Life is about Pete's discovery of courage, and strength as he works against the odd to keep everything he, his family and his friends have worked for going strong.

Shelf Life is an addiction at its finest, and at its dirtiest. This book is pretty dark in some places, which isn't surprising because from reading Stephanie Lawton's other works, it's obvious that she lives to show the controversial side of life. I had one major issue with the novel, that is actually a big plot point (and semi-spoiler): what happens to Lewis (Pete's best friend) at the party they attend in the first fifteen percent of the book. It, to this day, disturbs me. It's awful, and I've never heard of anything like it but it broke my heart for Lewis, Pete and Lindsey.

I grew up in Ohio and spent nineteen years of my life there, so seeing a book set in a place I am highly familiar with was very interesting. I'm not used to the rural side of the state being portrayed. I loved it! The setting was very realistic (though, there are more cornfields in my area than cattle). The fact that Lawton stayed realistic to the true farming side of Ohio made for a very satisfying read.

The characters were overall pretty great as well. I liked not only seeing so much of Pete, but getting to know minor characters as well (even though a few seemed to fall off of the face of the planet before the end of the story). I would love to see more of Lewis, though. I can't imagine what is going through his head after everything he's been through and I hope the next installment gives us a chance to know him better. Pete's growth during the story is pretty fascinating to read. He finds his courage, and admits his faults. I love his interactions with his family and friends. It all felt very realistic, which is great as a few contemporary books I've read lately have been extremely UNrealistic.

The plot flowed very well. I had no issues with that, and actually finished the book in one sitting. I planned on reading just a few chapters before I got ready for work and stopped to get something to eat before my shift, but thanks to Stephanie Lawton, I got to work three hours later unshowered and unfed. Damn her for making this so wonderful! But really, I am very happy I read Shelf Life. The author wrote another great story, that has me looking forward to more. I would definitely recommend this to NA fans, who aren't afraid of scenes that will make you squirm!

I received an e-copy of this novel from the author for my honest opinion and review.

This review can also be seen here on my blog.
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
Author 18 books143 followers
November 11, 2013
From the cover, I had thought it might be a bit tamer than Stephanie's other books and that was about it. Figured it would still be a bit of a romance, I suppose. While it has romantic elements, though, this book isn't really a romance so much as a year in the life of its main character. Pete. Not what I expected, but I like the way it built.

At its best points, this book had moments of Neil Gaiman and Francesca Lia Block. That's not to say this is a book with any magical elements. It's not. But the writing is descriptive, vivid. It gives you a sense of character, and solid views into the minds of the characters playing in the world.

The book culminates in this horrible storm that most of our main characters get stuck in. For this part of the book, there is not a page that is not fast paced or quick reading. Lindsey, our heroine, is portrayed as a bit of a brat in the early section of the book, but Stephanie brings her back into the fold with skill and empathy. Her return in the latter half of the book brings a comforting balance back to the book, though I often found myself wishing someone would pound on Lewis' door (Lindsey's brother and Pete's best friend) until he finally opened it.

The only character I couldn't find redeemable in the end was the character of Jay: the bully.

There were a couple of points I felt let the story down. It was a little bit slow to start, which can be forgiven, especially when the slowness was due to thorough world building. The slightly bigger point was that there felt like there was too much going one that was extraneous to the main plot. Characters were introduced and then dropped in favour for others and, though Pete thought of the friends that had come before, his university life felt like the opening to a separate book rather than a separate section in the same book of Pete's life. I found myself wanting to know more about Evan and Jenna. Instead, Jenna felt like a placeholder for Lindsey's return.

There were also two scenes written from Jay's point of view in seemingly isolated parts of the otherwise first person narrative that I wasn't sure added the desired empathy for the character.

Lastly, I thought the book might have benefited from a trigger warning for the event at the drunken party at the end of the first act. Otherwise, it was a thoroughly emotive book with many memorable characters, and a good edition to Stephanie's body of work.
Profile Image for Jamie Manning.
Author 7 books127 followers
June 14, 2014
Lawton has done it again with SHELF LIFE. Such an inspiring work that I could read again and again.
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.