Monday, January 3, 2011

Male Monday (Off Color): The Lighter Side of Life and Death

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin 2010
Random House Children's Books

Rating: 4/5

IQ "I don't want to obsess on what Kat said about staying away from each other but how exactly do you cut yourself off from someone that you've thought of/seen/spoken to every day for the past three years? I understand that she's confused but her cure hurts worse than the disease." Mason pg. 94

Mason Rice is loving life as a sixteen-year old. He just came off a performance high for a play that he had a starring role in. Then, that same night, there was a party and he lost his virginity to his gorgeous best friend, Kat Medina. he thought it was an amazing. Until he learns that Kat didn't see as such a great experience. She regrets crossing the friendship line and she wants to forget it ever happens, even if she has to forget Mason. Mason is confused by Kat's reaction and hurt so when he meets the attractive Colette, he decides he wants to get involved with her. Thing is, she's twenty three. Mason's not sure his feelings are reciprocated until Colette invites him to her apartment and from there a good times relationship ensues.

I saw the cover of this book and for some odd reason I thought it was about two poc. I now realize Mason is white and the brown-skin belongs to Kat. Who knows what I was thinking. I also didn't know the story took place in Canada. I was completely confused when Mason said he only had a year and a half till he left home since y'know, in the U.S. it would be two years. Not that this bothered me, the story was a great one. I do wish that Kat had been better developed. I guess since Kat was trying to stay away from Mason, it's harder to show her personality. I wanted to understand why Mason was so enamored with her but since his contact with her was limited in this book, I never got a grasp as to why he thought she was so special. She didn't handle the situation well, but that made the book more realistic. I could understand why she felt so flustered after she lost her virginity to Mason. That's a bit awkward, especially since they weren't dating. I didn't understand Brianna's deal either. Brianna is Mason's new stepsister and I wasn't sure if she just hated life in general or if she was mad that her mom married Mason's dad? I needed some more glimpses into her life. I also would have liked more about Mason's friends. He seemed to keep them all at a distance which was interesting.

I love that it's about a guy who's living a fantasy, getting involved with a sexy older woman. I love that Colette knows Mason's 'living the dream' and she doesn't mind. well I don't love it per se, I love that it's being addressed. I like that the author is so unflinching in writing about it. There's no moral undertone to this story, everything is just reported. This is how Mason feels, this is what Colette says, etc. There's no grand explosion in the end and I appreciated that. The consequences of the relationship aren't ignored, there are consequences but nothing drastic happens. I was worried that this book would be very high-drama but it was low-key, much like Mason and Colette's relationship. There are no graphic sex scenes but they are portrayed. After all, would anyone really expect Mason and Colette not to have sex? Their relationship starts off as being focused on the good times, but it does get complex. There are significant others in both their lives and what they are doing, while not illegal, is frowned upon. I like the added situation of Mason having to adjust his home situation. Mason's parents are divorced and for years it's been just him and his dad. Now he has to accept that his father is getting re-married to a woman with a pre-teen and a young kid. It's a big adjustment and on the surface Mason seems to take it in stride. On the surface only.

The Lighter Side of Life and Death is indeed about situations that are a lot easier to deal with than life and death (drugs, death of family members, etc). The author doesn't mock the issues teenagers face or try to show that there are simple solutions to our problems. it's complicated, but in this story at least, teens can handle it. There's a great distinction between love and lust and the author makes that clear. Mason has to find that out for himself though. The 'i-love-yous' aren't traded until the very end, as it should be. The book could use further secondary character development but the book mostly focuses on Mason and Colette, and those two are at their fullest potential. Their relationship is one of fun and doubt. The reader (like Mason) knows it won't work out, but that doesn't make this any less of a notable tale and I got caught up in it all. Plus there's an added bonus of the story being set in Canada, a country that was quite foreign to me.

Disclosure: Overdue from the library. Yay late fees!


  1. The Lighter Side of Life and Death sounds interesting. I believe I'll read it one day :)

  2. @Katrina-It's very good. A nice addition to contemporary YA fiction.


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