High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.
Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.
One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.
"Life Sliding" is a compelling read from beginning to end and clearly demonstrates author S. L. Mauldin's original and exceptionally gifted storytelling talents. While very highly recommended for school and community library YA Fiction collections.." Midwest Book Review
Life Sliding is a young adult coming of age novel written by S.L. Mauldin. Though he had indeed handcrafted the persona that made him the kid everyone wanted to emulate, even Gavin Bailey found the yearbook title, “The Most Looked Up To,” somewhat tedious and a little bit absurd. Still, he accepted his role as a king at his high school and pondered what it would be like reigning in his senior year. Taylor, his long-term friend/girlfriend, had invited him to come with her family to Cabo for the summer, but his father, who had gotten increasingly strict and controlling, had nixed that idea. He had made other plans for Gavin, plans that would put the kibosh on any entertainment for his last high school summer, and his dad had made it clear that there was no point in arguing about it. After the last day of school, Gavin was woken up early on Sunday morning and driven off to the parking lot where a herd of yellow school buses were waiting for the campers to arrive. To make matters even worse, his father had pulled the plug on his cellphone coverage, effectively cutting off any communication with the real world as Gavin knew it. Camp Lift Me Up was created to let kids with special needs just be kids for a summer, and Gavin’s father had volunteered him to be one of the Counselors-in-Training. Gavin viewed it as a wasted summer at first, but he soon discovered it was a life-changing experience.
S.L. Mauldin’s young adult coming of age novel, Life Sliding, is a grand and glorious read about the pressures to conform that shackle children and young adults in school, and one popular kid’s realization that there was much more to life than being the most looked up to. Following Gavin’s metamorphosis from an arrogant and entitled kid to a compassionate and independently minded young adult is a mesmerizing and moving experience. Life Sliding is one of those all-too-rare books that get it. Mauldin seems to have the inside scoop on the angst, self-doubt and insecurity of the young whose issues are often dismissed with condescending platitudes such as “youth is wasted on the young.” His plot is original and compelling, and Camp Lift Me Up is marvelous. I have to admit that I’ve always harbored a wistful envy of those fortunate kids who got sent to camp and became counselors when they were teens. So I automatically looked forward to vicariously experiencing Gavin’s camping summer, even if he didn’t, but, like Gavin, I found it far surpassed my anticipation. Mauldin’s characters are authentic and intriguing, especially Gavin’s lifelong friend, Jacob, and their friendship is a big part of what makes this book work as well as it does. I had a grand time reading Life Sliding; it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Life Sliding is most highly recommended.
Literary Titan Gold Award Winner March 2018 - Life Sliding by S. L. Mauldin