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Life at These Speeds [Library Binding]

Jeremy Jackson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 2008 1435229746 978-1435229747 Reprint
In eighth grade Kevin Schuler is a popular kid with a decent, if not stellar, record on the track. Yet after fate takes him off a bus that crashes and kills his fellow students, including his girlfriend, Kevin inexplicably becomes a track phenomenon. Separated from his memory and distanced from his own life, he effortlessly smashes records and gains national attention, until he finds that he can no more remain apart from himself than he can from the ground beneath his feet.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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.

From Booklist

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Life at These Speeds April 21 2004
By A Customer
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. The spring and summer after the accident he chages and once the new school year starts, he forgets about what happend. When he races, he feels weightless and sees memories of his old classmates. This book is about how he moved on after the accident but in reality he couldn't move on. This book is written from a teenagers point of veiw and is why i think that it is mostly for teenagers but i think that adults would really enjoy it also.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You Got To Read This Book! Nov. 26 2003
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. He becomes a phenomenal runner when his friends and girlfriend gets killed in a bus accident on the way home from a track meet. He was the only one who survived so he has the challenge of moving on and putting his past and fears behind him. I thought this book was the best book I have ever read. I like the way it was written. The flashbacks to before the bus accident with his girlfriend and friends really helped show me the relationship Kevin Schuler had with each one of them. The book also proves to people that your dreams and goals do come true if you want them bad enough. If you like books about running I would highly recommend this book. I like to run so this book was very enjoyable for me and if you read it I hope you enjoy it too.
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In a manner reminscent of Bernard Malamud's "The Natural," Jeremy Jackson's somber debut novel, "Life at These Speeds" interprets the darker side of the American success myth through the lens of competitive athletics. Where Malamud indicts hypocrisy and greed in the all-American sport of baseball, Jackson explores the troubled aspects of individual motivation, excellence and isolation in the less-acclaimed activity of long-distance running. Jackson's troubled, conflicted protagonist, Kevin Schuler, discovers speed after a devastating accident claims the life of many of his teammates and girlfriend, but he discovers neither solace or satisfaction from his sudden, unbidden prowess. "Life" reveals a tormented soul alienated and removed from hinmself, disdaining recognition but yearning for understanding and acceptance.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Runner's world Nov. 18 2003
By Rebecca
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. And so I thought the author did a really good job placing those bonds and emotion into the story. The author can tell a good story and I enjoyed his very physical descriptions of the running life and felt that they were very real, believable, and inspiring. I also really felt for the main character (something every good book does), and liked the fact that he grows and learns from his pain. He is anything but a flat character, which is refreshing. I am convinced Jackson has run high school track and cross country, and if he hasn't he has been extremely close to the sport to the point where its in him as much as it would be otherwise.
This is a great running book, though I'm not sure I would recommend that you buy it for your running kid because of some of the language.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Nov. 16 2003
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 why not give it a shot if i dont like it jus drop it back off. After the first few pages i was hooked. I found myself looking for any extra minute to read a page or two. This book keeps you on the edge and keeps you wondering at all times what's next. And if your an athlete like me or a runner you'll love this book simply because of its physicality. Jeremy Jackson reaches depths not many authors can reach and he does it flawlessly. The only thing about the novel i didnt like, is that it had to end. If your looking for a good book to read that wont let you down this is it, It's given me inspiration and a feeling unlike any other after reading a book. Jeremy Jackson is a talented and gifted author and i cant wait to see what he comes up with next.
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By A Customer
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. There is tragedy and triumph, but at a level my son may not appreciate just yet in his young life. Nonetheless, the book is every bit as good as the previous reviewers detail. I wish the motives of adult didn't have to be so suspect, but I have seen everything this book details--and more--infiltrating the games that children play, with layers of motive no child should have to untangle and at a price no child should have to pay.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In Good Hands with Jackson
It's exciting to come across a first novel as good as this one, to get in at the beginning of an author's career and have a shot at developing a relationship with him as he... Read more
Published on March 21 2003 by "mactexan"
4.0 out of 5 stars Eloquently sad
Kevin Schuler, an eighth grader in rural Missouri, is at a track meet with his team. At the end of the evening, he returns home in his family's car, but the rest of the team takes... Read more
Published on March 4 2003 by Anna Klein
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a great running book--a great book
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 more
Published on Feb. 6 2003 by garsky
1.0 out of 5 stars good and bad
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 more
Published on Jan. 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Speed of Life
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 more
Published on Dec 21 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the greatest running novel, but decent.
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 more
Published on Nov. 23 2002 by metros232
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BOOK I've read this year - deserves SIX stars!
I have never been a runner, an adolescent boy, or a resident of rural Missouri -- and I could not put this book down. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2002 by I_Love_To_Read
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