One. Life. Lived.

Young Adult - Social Issues
234 Pages
Reviewed on 03/05/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Melissa Service spent her formative years in the tiny, magical town of New Berlin-- population 800. She lives in California with her family and their sweet, yet slightly neurotic, standard poodle, Eisley. When she isn't chasing her kids or the dog around the neighborhood, she's writing. Her first book, Worthy of Thorns, was published in 2012.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Karen Walpole for Readers' Favorite

To say that Stephanie is an out-of-control teen is a profound understatement. In spite of an extraordinary gift for music, her internal demons turn her to drugs and violence. In Stephanie: One. Life. Lived. by Melissa Service, Stephanie’s family tries desperately to help her, but their daughter’s behavior is beyond their understanding. Hospital stays and rehabilitation programs and therapists don’t help, and each time Stephanie returns home, she is more violent and uncontrollable than ever. She returns to her druggy friends and is volatile, throwing and breaking anything around her at home, and attacking anyone handy whenever her parents try to set or enforce limits for her. Someone suggests a different, more spiritual, solution and Stephanie’s parents, desperate for answers, decide to try that approach. The book is the story of this last chance attempt to save their daughter and about what events stem from it.

I love how the story is set up in the prologue and comes full circle at the end. I also like how the story’s speaker changes from chapter to chapter. One chapter is written from Stephanie’s point of view and then the next, her mother’s. The family’s love for Stephanie and perseverance in finding a way to help her is inspirational. I also find the integration of how music is inspired by life with how music inspires listeners wonderful. It is obvious that the author has an understanding of the spiritual nature of the composition process and the passions of musicians. The symbols, like the men with tattoos and men with canes, that show up at different points in the story, are inventive. The messages conveyed by Melissa Service’s book, Stephanie, are important ones for today’s teens and their parents.

K.C. Finn

Stephanie: One. Life. Lived. is a young adult quick read by Melissa Service. The story explodes into life with wayward teen Stephanie Carlisle mixed up in a world of crime, recreational drugs and the wrong road in life. She is abruptly caught in the act of being a rebellious teen, and processed into a correctional facility, signed off by her mother, to be set straight. After this, she meets the equally troubled Josh Jacobs, and through her own recovery and new beliefs, Stephanie feels that she can help Josh work out his own demons. The results of her efforts present a stark, bleak message that feels true to the shocking stories we often see on the news today.

Melissa Service tells Stephanie’s tragic story from multiple perspectives to give a full family and friends view of the themes of redemption, sacrifice, belief and loss. Stephanie’s recovery sends an empowering message to families of teens who may well have been through the exact same situation that the Carlisle family faces, but it is her final act and the consequences thereafter which really bring the message of choice and consideration for others home. I particularly found Eloise, Stephanie’s mother, to be a deeply engaging and complex character who overcomes incredible challenges in order to spread happiness into the future instead of hate. Adults and older teens will find Stephanie to be a deep and complex short read with a strong moral theme and a basis in heartfelt Christian values of the fragility and value of life.

Kayti Nika Raet

Stephanie: One. Life. Lived. by Melissa Service is a moving redemption story about Stephanie Carlisle, a musically gifted, but very troubled teen. When we first meet her, she and a group of friends are about to rob a restaurant. At first she seems like a person you would not want to befriend, but as the story progresses, and through faith and the love of those closest to her, Stephanie's troubled soul slowly starts to mend. After turning away from drugs and alcohol to a more devoted way of life, she soon meets Josh Jacobs, a talented but equally troubled boy, and learns that her trials are not over yet.

Told in multiple points of view, Stephanie by Melissa Service is able to effectively weave a poignant tale of redemption. This is a moving tale and though it's for young adult audiences, the author is not afraid to delve into the darker experiences of life, all in an effort to showcase the healing power of faith. In the beginning, I didn't really like Stephanie, but as I read on and learned more about her, I felt a little sad for her and found myself hoping, for her sake as well as her family's, that she would eventually make the right decision. Every character goes through growth and change, and Melissa Service manages to make each point of veiw relatable. Even though I am lucky to have never experienced what her characters have, I still found myself drawn in by Stephanie and Josh's story. Melissa Service definitely has a way with words and I'm interested to see what she comes up with next.