For This Life Only is very different from Stacey's other books. It doesn't contain her usual quick wit and humor that I have come to expect. In fact, it was a bit of a tearjerker at the end, so you may want to keep that in mind if you are planning on reading this book in public. Stacey grew up as a PK (pastor's kid), so I'm sure this book was harder for her to write than most of the others because it certainly hits closer to home than ghosts and aliens.
Jace and his brother Eli are the twin sons of the local minister. Their father expects everyone in the family to maintain a perfect image and to always reflect positively on the family and the church. Their grandfather was the minister before their father took over and everyone assumes they will eventually carry on the family tradition. For Eli, that may be a possibility, but Jace is well on his way to a baseball scholarship and plans on moving as far away as possible. Everything changes the night Eli and Jace are involved in a car accident. Jace injures his arm and leg and will never be able to pitch again. Eli was even less fortunate.
The majority of the book revolves around Jace's family struggling with the loss of Eli. Jace always viewed Eli and the "good twin" while he was the "bad twin" or the screw up. They were two halves of a whole and without his brother, he is only half of what he should be.
Jace has always been taught to believe in the afterlife, but after nearly dying and losing his brother, be begins to question his beliefs. He can't turn to his family or the church, so he seeks guidance from Thera, who he discovers was secretly friends with Eli. The reason for the secrecy....she is the daughter of the local psychic and the church does not approve of this profession. The church would also like to take over her mother's property, which is located directly across the street from the church, and has been trying to force them out for years. The more Jace gets to know Thera, the more he realizes his brother may not have been as perfect as he seemed.
Overall, this was a very thought provoking book. Stacey doesn't attempt to provide the answers to Jace's questions about loss and the afterlife. She does; however, share some research and evidence that allows readers a chance to explore their own thoughts on the subject without pressuring anyone into a certain set of beliefs. We also get to see Jace mature and stand up for himself and the things he believes in, which provided a silver lining in this otherwise tragic story.