Life at These Speeds
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From Publishers Weekly
The narrator of Jackson's debut novel is Kevin Schuler, an eighth grader from a small Missouri town; he's popular, athletic and dates the cutest girl in school. But his life is shattered when the van carrying most of his friends home from a track meet skids into the river and all on board are killed. From that moment on, Kevin is transformed: he transfers to a different school, becomes a track prodigy and struggles with repressed memories of his dead friends. His success attracts a lot of attention from doctors, school administrators, girls and he becomes a local sensation, though not everyone's interest in his progress is entirely ethical. The events of the novel take on a slightly surreal cast from the boy's skewed perspective, which lies somewhere between damaged adolescent, reluctant hero and ironic sage. This confusion is compounded by the incongruously sophisticated first-person narration Kevin possesses the vocabulary and insight of a Ph.D. candidate (his first impression of his coach is that the older man "exuded a languidness I imagined arose from sexual experience"). Kevin's family and friends, who help him through his crisis, are portrayed rather flatly, despite their often bizarre names (Bobolink Crustacean, Umber Porphorhessohln), though one exception is Andanda Dane, the school newspaper editor who carries a torch for Kevin. Despite (or perhaps because of) its flaws, this debut has an undeniably quirky charm; it will be interesting to see what Jackson does next.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
When the school van veers off a bridge and plunges into the river below, everyone on the track team is killed except star Kevin Schuler, who rode home with his parents that evening. Repressing almost all memory of that season, Kevin begins high school in a different district, where he remains isolated from other students and teammates. Claiming he hates running, the star athlete nonetheless finds peace in it, losing himself in concentration when he runs. As Kevin sets more records and becomes locally famous, the clouds that hang over him take on new forms and he must successfully navigate his own course through all the noise of the outside world, dodging those who would tempt him in different directions. Jackson's first novel presents an unpredictable and unique protagonist who defies categorization. The first-person narration provides a glimpse into Schuler's mind, yet the voice is detached enough that he remains almost as much a mystery to the reader as to other characters. The unforgettable and complex main character makes this novel well worth reading. Gavin Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
After learning of the demise of his friends and girlfriend, Kevin literally runs from his pain. Numbed by anguish and horrified by his own lack of affect, Kevin seeks solace in running. Rigorous individual routines only serve to reinforce his sense of guilt and indirect responsibility. Records melt under his fleet feet, but he hears only silence as he attains what appears to be a state of grace on the track. Throughout high school, Kevin's letter jacket gains pounds as a result of his medals, trinkets that only serve to weigh him down spiritually. His repeated astonishing victories, some earned despite vicious opponents and his own disdain for transcendence, ironically defeat his quest for self-understanding, tolerance and forgiveness.
Jackson is not content with merely exploring atheltics' false claims of redemption and personal transformation.Read more ›
LIFE AT THESE SPEEDS is undeniably well written. While perhaps not realistic (he is much too mature for his age), Kevin is an interesting narrator. I enjoyed the way he favored no one and viewed most of those around him as a sad joke. Jeremy Jackson's use of language is both eloquent and effective. The plot, however, seemed stretched thin overall and without clear direction, meandering unfettered through one boy's tortured life. This is not necessarily bad, but some readers (like me) may at times lose interest. And while the insights presented are captivating, they do not always ring true.
The descriptions of Kevin's races are taut and laced with ellusive tension, but readers interested in serious track and running may also be disappointed. LIFE AT THESE SPEEDS is first and foremost a poignant, dreamlike coming-of-age novel.
Most recent customer reviews
I love this book. It is about a boy who is hurt when his friends die in an accident on the way home from a track meet. Read morePublished on April 20 2004
If you would like to read a fantastic book read "Life at Theses Speeds." It's about an average teenage boy named Kevin Schuler who became a famous track and cross country runner. Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2003 by a student
I really did like this book! I ran High School track and cross country and understand the bonds you form with the people on your team. Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2003 by Rebecca
I was skimming through some books at my school library when i came across this book at first glance and thumbing through a few pages it didnt seem that interesting but i figured... Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2003
I bought this book for my son--but decided to read it first. I may have a wait a year or two before I give it to him. Kevin's story is provocative and haunting. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2003
I don't run; the only situation in which I could conceive myself running would be if, say, Denise Richards were nearby. And she could probably run faster than me anyway. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2003 by garsky
A relatively interesting story, but I must admit the initial chapter or 2 is so profanity laden that my wife has told me that this book must leave the house after I finish. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2003
Jeremy Jackson does an amazing job of bringing the reader into his novel. I would find it unimagineable to believe that there is a person who can't feel in some way connected to... Read morePublished on Dec 21 2002
The opening of the book focuses so much on Kevin's little actions, his drug use, his girlfriend, but this quickly gets lost for the rest of the novel. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002 by metros232