“The Cost of Bliss” by Kelsey Conkling

“The Cost of Bliss” by Kelsey Conkling 663 1024 Reader Views Kids

The Cost of Bliss

Kelsey Conkling
Independently Published (2023)
ISBN: 979-8218256326
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (10/2023)

Fourteen-year-old Jane Prince’s perfect life began changing for the worse when she noticed that piece of paper stuck to the door of her beautiful, five-bedroom house. On top of that, her father unexpectedly loses his job, and the Princes are forced to relocate. Down the road on the rougher, low-income side of town, the family of four stays temporarily with Jane’s great-grandmother in her cramped home. Jane feels panicky and ashamed and vows to keep this secret from her three best friends. But a boy from her school, Preston, won’t let her forget. Despite her family’s worsening financial situation, Jane is most worried about her reputation at Blossom View Middle School. The friction between her and her friends is causing rifts, and she worries that she’ll go to the eighth-grade ball alone. If that isn’t bad enough, Preston Miller keeps popping up everywhere, annoying her.

Jane wants everything to return to how it used to be before the moving truck appeared on her driveway and before her dad lost his job.

“The Cost of Bliss” by Kelsey Conkling is a wildly affecting story about overcoming obstacles and resilience. The text is geared toward young readers between the ages of ten and eighteen and is told from Jane’s perspective. The young teen is introspective and emotional as she struggles to understand the plight of her parents’ money woes and why she has been uprooted from her idyllic life. Classic themes of identity, family dynamics, and friendship are woven into this coming-of-age book, sure to become a favorite of teen readers.

As kids, we often put our parents on a pedestal, assuming they are perfect, and they have the capacity to solve every problem. That is until some unforeseen circumstance ameliorates that notion. Conkling did an excellent job capturing this revelation as Jane sees her parents in a vulnerable light. Her father’s job loss causes a change in their socioeconomic status, causing that perfect facade to crack. Suddenly, Jane has to make sacrifices like never before, like taking care of her sister, eating meager meals, and washing her clothes at the laundromat. While Jane’s feelings toward her parents shift between pity and anger, the adversity ultimately forces her to become more independent and tolerant. Moreover, being thrust into harrowing situations has been an eye-opener, and she begins to see the world in a different light as she learns that things aren’t always as they seem.

There couldn’t be a more fitting title for this heartwarming book— “The Cost of Bliss” encourages young adult readers to examine their beliefs of what brings us joy. Not the fleeting kind that a new dress or expensive sneakers provide, but the real bliss you get from connecting with others or volunteering your time to a worthy cause. Those are the things that fill your bucket—and they cost nothing.

“The Cost of Bliss” is a memorable book, chock-full of important lessons for young adults. The main character’s evolution was skillfully depicted through her ever-changing beliefs, and she showed immense grit when overcoming obstacles. Further, the emphasis on money not buying happiness is a good reminder for readers of all ages.

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