Ray Vs the Meaning of Life
Michael F. Stewart
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Coming-of-age
“Stewart presents readers with a dynamite coming-of-age story … A tale spins its answer to an age-old question into an inclusive, hilarious, and thought-provoking yarn.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Grandma’s Last Will and Testament names Ray to inherit the trailer park. It’s a million-dollar estate with one hitch: to prove he’s not as aimless as he seems, Ray must discover the meaning of life by the end of the month. (She left the answer in an envelope.) If he fails, the camp goes to his estranged family.
How does anyone find the meaning of life while running a park full of misfit miners, would-be truck racers, and one demanding little girl? There’s a bear too. A grizzly. Maybe that’ll help?
Michael F. Stewart embraces all forms of storytelling. In 2009, he created Bully For You for Scholastic Canada, a fully functioning social media platform with an embedded interactive story. He’s written graphic novels for Rubicon Publishing’s Boldprint series, illustrated early readers and novellas for Pearson (coming in 2019!), non fiction texts on Corruption and Children’s Rights; he even tried to convince the world that we needed a location based storytelling app with augmented reality (NARR8R)-we still do! He’s written adult horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, and adventure. He’s even written books you’ll never find. But nothing is ever wasted. His most recent book, Counting Wolves, a contemporary YA, was named to Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of 2017” list. The Boy Who Swallows Flies (2018) won Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award, and the Assured Destruction Series won The Creation of Stories: Best YA Award at the Toronto International Book Fair. In 2016, Michael was selected to join the CFC/Entertainment One TV Adaptation Lab. Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library’s Writer in Residence and runs free writing workshops. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit his website at http://www.michaelfstewart.com or connect via Twitter @MichaelFStewart.
Date Read: 4/29/18
Rating: 5 stars
Oh, this was such a sweet book! It’s made me want to pick up more contemporary YA! I loved getting to know all of these characters, and the story was so ridiculous and funny. I 100% recommend this book!
So this book is basically about a kid, Ray, being challenged to learn the meaning of life in a month. Halfway through, he enlists the help of a motivational guru hired by his grandmother to help guide him. From this guru’s teaching and Ray’s own understanding came a lot of really great thoughts and ideas that I think a lot of people (all people!) could benefit from internalizing. I’m not a huge quote person, but I found several quotes in this book that I adored:
Worry is a symptom that you live too much in the future.
You can’t be anything you want to be, no matter how hard you try.
Now you have to find your niche, you have to dig deeper into that niche and be the best of what you can be.
Proceed with no caution, like you will die tomorrow, like mistakes are to be expected.
Believe in yourself, no one else can quite as fiercely
I loved watching Ray grow from a guy who takes just about no care of himself (scurvy?!) and has such a strained relationship with his family into almost the opposite. He’s forced to go through something that takes most people their whole life to achieve, if they ever do, and it’s inspiring to see, even if it is fiction.
Honestly this book came across as quite yogic to me – several of the exercises Ray did with negative thoughts were the same thing I had to do in my yoga teacher training, and still try to do today. A lot of the other lessons and ideas were quite similar as well. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I feel this book so strongly – I do relate to some of Ray’s experiences (though my journey is taking much longer :P).