Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: June 2010
ISBN 13: 9780312609146
ISBN 10: 0312609140
Available from: The Book Depository, Chapters, Barnes and Noble
List Price: $8.58 CAD, $10.91 CAD, $8.99 US
Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…
When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.
The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.
When I first saw this book I really did not know much about it, but there was something very enticing about the cover. After turning the book over I saw that one of my favourite authors, Jeri Smith-Ready, had been quoted on the back. I thought to myself that if Jeri liked it then I surely would too. To say that I liked this book would be a glorious understatement. I loved this book, and here's why...
The first thing I noticed about this book is how easy it was for me to relate to the main character, Jess Gillmansen. She is smart, humble and strong. She is the kind of heroine that you will never tire of. She's you.
The incredible character development that Delany boasts extends beyond Jess. Each and every character has a well defined personality that is unique to them. Jess' good friend Amy is one of the characters that stands out the most to me. She is everything that I would want in a friend; honest, trustworthy and hilarious. As for the guys there is really only one that I will discuss: Pietr Rusakova. Pietr is one of those heroes that you can not help but swoon over. He is this gorgeous Russian with an incredible accent. He is genuinely kind which balances his wild animalistic nature.There is absolutely nothing that I do not love about Pietr. He encompasses everything I look for in a man and a hero.
The relationship dynamics in 13 to Life are a very important part of Delany's character development. As every character is well defined, so is their relationships with those around them. Pietr and Jess' relationship aside, I loved the way that the Rusakova family interacts with each other. The way that they have built their lives around one another really touched my sappy little heart. One of the other relationship dynamics that unmasked Delany's characters was that of Sarah and Jess. The history of their friendship is like this mystery and every now and then you get another clue. The way that their relationship formed is so unconventional that it will compel you to read on in the hopes that you will better understand. I can only hope that Delany's follow-up, Secrets and Shadows, will help to uncover what is left of this dynamic.
One thing I cherish about Delany's writing is her ability to make me feel such strong emotions. An example of this would be the furocious jealousy that made my blood boil page after page. This jealousy that I felt was not towards Jess, not at all, rather it stemmed from Pietr's relationship with Sarah at Jess' request. While it is obvious that Pietr's relationship with Sarah is a sham, this does not make it any easier to read Delany's description of their affection. I found that the ability to relate so easily to Jess' character helped to fuel the jealous fire raging inside of me. However Pietr and Jess' stolen kisses behind Sarah's back also produced another well defined emotion in me. It was this sense of bittersweet revenge that I can still taste.
The themes in this book were heartfelt, and were used in a way that made this young adult story seem more wise than others in its category. The two themes that stood out to me were that of loss, and of time. The theme of loss is critical to the storyline because it enables Pietr and Jess to find a mutual understanding within each other. The loss that they both have suffered runs deep and it is something that continues to connect them in a way that Pietr could not with Sarah. The majority of pull that the theme of time has in the book is felt by Pietr's character. Throughout the book Peitr's obsessive compulsion with checking his watch just intensifies what is impending for him. Time is such a powerful force in Pietr's life, but I love how Delany makes it seem less significant when he is with Jess. When they are together it is like Pietr is savouring every moment and that concerning himself with time would be wasteful.
Thanks to TextNovel, Delany's passion for writing, and St. Martin's Press, the novel 13 to Life exists. This book was a treat to read and I have no doubt that the rest of the series will be just as splendid. 13 to Life brings to life the kind of heroine and hero that we all admire. The one we know exists somewhere inside of us. Pick up this book today. Life's too short not to.