"The Way He Lived" by Emily Wing Smith.
Joel, the gay teen the book is about, is dead. The story is that he passed away on a hiking trip into the Grand Canyon after giving up the last of his water. The story is then told by 6 teens that were close to him.
1. Tabbatha his older sister
2. Adlen his friend and debate team partner.
3. Miles his best friend.
4. Claire his younger sister
5. Norah, Miles younger sister and the girl who's first crush was Joel.
6. And finally Lissa, Miles' girlfriend and Joel's next door neighbor.
The story is about them overcoming the loss of their friend, sibling, and crush. It also has the hint of the deceased character Joel's struggle with being gay. Though the book doesn't start with you knowing Joel was gay and never says it exactly, by the end of the book you'll be sure after many big hints.
All and all, though the book is mainly about dealing with the loss of someone close to you, the fact Joel was gay was still a large factor in the book. The book subtly hints at the fact Joel (growing up in an almost completely Mormon community just outside of Salt Lake City) didn't feel accepted maybe as much as he would have liked. The subtle undertones show the dangers of being judgmental without sounding preachy or know-it-all.
It's all around a hard book to explain and I certainly do it no justice. I will just have to suggest you try reading it yourself. I've read it four times. (it's not incredibly long)
- teen reader Austin
Thanks, Austin, for the recommendation and synopsis!
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