Life is sometimes really messed up when you are a teenager. Your parents don’t understand what you are going through. You can’t argue and win because they have all the answers. What Rae Maddox had a problem with was moving. Every time she would just get settled in a new school, it was time to move on. Her mom was pretty cool, but it was definitely something that created an issue for her. Because she handled it all with aplomb, her mom never really understood. At her current school, she has a couple of people that she hangs out with. She does not call them friends because then she will be moving and lose more people that are close to her. The pain is too much, and she will just have to start again.
Kylie and Mason are the group she hangs with, but Blake and his friends are the “cool Kids.” She is just not a part of that crowd. So when she is singled out by her principle to help a new student adjust she does not understand. She is still feeling her own way to belonging, but, as usual, she goes with the flow. The new student Allison is quiet and standoffish. Rae struggles with finding a common ground. When she finds out that Allison’s parents just recently died in a fire, she tries very hard to understand. Allison is Blake’s cousin, but he goes out of his way to treat her rudely and taunt her. When Allison meets Rae’s mother, Rae is unsure how she feels about the bonding that occurs.
What Rae does not realize is that Allison is hiding her wounds; she is not mentally capable of dealing with her parent’s death. The unkindness of her cousin Blake and her difficulty fitting in, just pile more stones upon an already fragile ego. When Allison disappears, no one understands what has happened. Searching her heart, Rae believes she understands where Allison may have gone. Will she find her before it is too late?
In Life on Hold, Karen McQuestion has taken the horrifying events that occasionally happen in life and used them to build a lesson of understanding. The characters are very much like teenagers everywhere. Life happens all around them, but they only plug into what shows on the surface. There are often deep waters lurking in the shadows of their minds that are unplumbed. As with most kids, making fun and scoring off someone else often gets you laughs, but those laughs are often painful to the person on the other end.
Rae is a young woman with a heart, growing up without her father, but with a mother’s undivided attention has given her a different view of life. Trying to put herself in Allison’s place, she tries to be kinder to her. However, Allison herself makes it difficult. Can Rae reach deep within herself to find the solution to Allison’s disappearance. Will she be too late to save her?
I would recommend this book for the young adult reader. It is a harrowing look at what can happen when a teenager’s pain goes unnoticed. It is an eye opening look at challenges, which sometimes seem insurmountable. I believe it would be a great book to open dialog and create discussion. McQuestion puts together a realistic and fast-paced look at life.