The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin

I can’t remember what initially attracted me to The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin, but I heard rave reviews about the author. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I was impressed and disappointed at the same time.

Acclaimed YA author C. K. Kelly Martin offers a sexy, soulful story of one confused boy, two girls, and all the complications that ensue in this romantic feel-good love story that celebrates friendship, first love, first lust, and second chances.

Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He’s just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What’s a guy to do? Well, if you’re Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he’s imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason’s living in a whole new world.

 This story has an interesting, dynamic concept. A high school boy loses his virginity to his life-long crush, but she wants to forget it happened. So, what does he do? He starts hooking up with a 23-year-old woman. I enjoyed this idea — from a distance. It would be like me hooking up with a  16-year-old. Ugh. *shivers* I was torn between fascination and disgust, but for the most part I just accepted it.

Martin did an amazing job creating and portraying the main character, Mason. I can see why people rave about her ability to create a distinct voice. I found Mason to be completely believable even though he’s a male voice written by a female author. His emotions were spot on especially for his age and the circumstances he was dealt. I may not have agreed with his decisions, but I thoroughly enjoyed Mason as a character.

 My biggest issue with this book was the lack of action. The writing was there, the story was there, but there wasn’t any action. It read like a fictional memoir even though it was told in present tense. It was extremely realistic, but perhaps too realistic. Real life is rarely as exciting as the fictional adventures we embark on. I was engaged throughout the entire book but at the end I just thought, “Huh, okay.” It didn’t leave an impression; it didn’t make me think or make me want to change the world. Even more baffling, is the title. What does life and death have to do with borderline-statutory rape? There weren’t any deep character monologues about the meaning of life and death, and certainly nothing “light.” It just confused me.

The story unraveled very slowly with attention to detail. However, there were some details that were highlighted throughout the book that made me think something horrible was going to happen, but nothing ever came of it. I think it’s always good practice to avoid such random details if it amounts to nothing in the story; it distracts the reader.

I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. It’s a short, easy read with a well-developed main character, but it’s by no means exciting. If you’re into contemporary lit, this might be your thing. I appreciate this book for what it is, but I don’t think I will read anything else by Martin. I like to escape to other worlds when I read; I don’t like to be reminded of real, mundane life where answers don’t come easy and everything is complicated.

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