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The Lighter Side of Life and Death    by C. K. Kelly Martin order for
Lighter Side of Life and Death
by C. K. Kelly Martin
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Life looks pretty good for popular, sixteen-year-old Mason Rice as The Lighter Side of Life and Death opens. But it soon gets complicated in this engaging tale of relationship triangles - that complicate both first love and friendship.

Mason is on a high from the success of his school play, in which he starred. But Kat Medina (one of his two best friends, the other being Jamie) leaves the cast party afterwards, distressed over the behavior of her now ex-boyfriend Hugo. After Mason takes her home with him, one thing leads to another - and it's the first time for both of them.

The next day, a still joyous Mason is shocked by Kat's avoiding him - she obviously regrets what happened and her reaction spills over to affect his friendship with Jamie. It's a lot to deal with, especially with what's going on on the home front. Mason's dad's fiancée Nina will soon be moving in with her prickly thirteen-year-old daughter Brianna and six-year-old son Burke.

At the engagement shower, Mason meets Colette, a friend of Nina's sister who is in her early twenties. They hit it off. When they meet later in a coffee shop, she gives him a ride home and kisses him. Gradually a relationship develops, hampered by Colette's discomfort with the age difference and the fact that she has a boyfriend.

C. K. Kelly Martin's characters come alive from the pages. Mason is a decent, easy-going guy, trying to get along with friends and family, and learning about love, but finding all of it challenging. Readers really want things to work out for him, and will appreciate Martin's very credible conclusion, in which Mason decides, 'For the second time this year, it's a whole new world.'

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