Speed of Life, by Carol Weston (2017)

Contemporary Fiction
11-15
Speed of Life, by Carol WestonHave a tween/early teen daughter? Run out and get her this book now. omg I loved it! Sofia is deeply mourning her mother’s sudden death less than a year ago. She misses her mother so much, and her presence is everywhere, from the school Sofia attends where her mother was a teacher to the New York City apartment where Sofia lives with her gynecologist Dad. They’ll have to move out soon, though, as the apartment is for faculty members only, and well, she’s gone. At 14, Sofia has a lot of questions about life, love, sex, friends, clothes and more. Even though Dad is a gynecologist, Sofia can’t talk to him about such things. When Fifteen magazine’s advice columnist Dear Kate comes to Sofia’s school, she feels a connection and begins to email her about everything from first kisses to a pimple she finds “down there.” As she learns her father is seeing someone, Sofia struggles with feelings of betrayal, and reaches out to Kate. Neither of them realizes that Kate is actually Dad’s new love. That’s probably enough right there for a short novel, but there is so much more to come! Weston, who has also written Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You and several other books, both fiction and nonfiction, draws on her own experience as an advice columnist for Girls’ Life, and in an afterword admits she spent years writing this novel. The book clearly benefited from the extra time. The characters are all well drawn, realistic and enjoyable. Sofia’s voice is strong and authentic, and the adults are given a stronger role to play than in most YA novels. Kate’s daughter Alexa is delightfully snippy, and Sofia’s best friend Kikki is loyal and reliable, but not immune to making her own mistakes. In addition to featuring Alexa’s father in a gay relationship, there’s a lovely moment in which Sofia nonchalantly realizes a friend is gay when her dance date is another girl. Sofia’s Spanish heritage is well handled, including several appearances by her Abuelito (grandpa) giving Sofia a realistic role as translator between her grandfather and father. My top choice for the books I’ve read so far this year; it will be a contender for some major awards. Highly recommended. My thanks to publisher Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More reviews and discussion of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27969093
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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