Sixteen-year-old Joel Espen died of thirst and heat exhaustion while on a hike in the Grand Canyon. He collapsed in a desperate attempt to get water for his friend. In the aftermath, everyone said was the strongest, bravest, and kindest young man anyone knew. But nobody really knew him.
The novel tells the story of Joel’s life and death through the memories of those who grew up around Joel. As each character presents a piece of the boy they knew, it becomes clear that however much people loved and admired Joel, there was something about him they could never quite admit—could never bring themselves to see. The heartbreaking tragedy was not only Joel’s death, but that in his life the people who loved him most, couldn’t accept him for what he was.
The Way He Lived is an unsparing story of a teen’s life and death and legacy in a small community told with nuance and subtlety.
“Powerful, funny, beautiful, and infinitely real. I love this book.”—Sara Zarr, National Book Award Finalist
“Compassionate and heartfelt.” —Ellen Wittlinger, Michael L. Printz Award Honoree
Winner of the 2009 Utah Book Award
From the Hardcover edition.