WESTON, Carol. Speed of Life. 352p. ebook available. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492654490.
Gr 7-10 –It’s January, and eighth grader Sofia’s mother has now been dead for nine months. Disturbed that her dad has started dating so soon, Sofia, who is half Spanish, writes to Fifteen magazine’s “Dear Kate” for advice. Kate’s thoughtful response soon has Sofia writing back multiple times, asking many of the questions that a normal teen would ask her mom—if she still had one. Sofia is horrified to discover that the mystery woman her dad is dating is none other than Dear Kate herself! Does Sofia come clean or just disappear? This slice-of-life story echoes the author’s own experience as a teen magazine advice columnist and addresses all sorts of issues: death, grieving, moving, parental dating, parental sexuality, stepsibling conflict, self-esteem, relationships, and more. This refreshing work tackles a lot of themes, but eventually Sofia does get to a better place. The target audience is likely to become engaged despite the slow pace, because Weston isn’t afraid to tackle the squirm-inducing questions common to high school freshmen too embarrassed to seek sound information from reliable sources. VERDICT Purchase where sweet and charming character-driven fiction for tweens is in demand.
This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.