cover image Speed of Life

Speed of Life

J.M. Kelly. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-544-74782-1

After one of the Robbins twins has a baby the summer before their senior year—Kelly avoids revealing which one until well into the novel—the girls vow to keep the child they name Natalie, graduate from their Portland, Ore., high school, and create better lives for all three of them. Amber wants to take over her aunt’s tavern someday, and Crystal, passionate about vintage cars, plans to become a mechanic. When Crystal learns about a car restoration program at a Kansas college, she’s torn. Told from Crystal’s perspective, this contemporary novel from Kelly (the author of Restoring Harmony and other books as Joëlle Anthony) is rife with internal and external conflicts as it traces a sister’s reckoning with secrets and the bonds of family. While highlighting the difficulties of being a teenage parent, Kelly shows how hard work, determination, and honesty can help make dreams come true. If the mystery of Natalie’s parentage feels overly manufactured, the book remains a believable portrait of blue-collar teens struggling to make it work against tough odds. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)