I am reading Sadie by Courtney Summers. There is this sentence that I do not understand.

I want to live my life on the internet. Everything is perfect there. I found Kendall Baker on a computer in a library in some forgettable town along the way. She's beautiful. A girl with a glow. Eighteen years old, but the kind of eighteen they write about in books. The kind of eighteen that lives faster than the speed of hurt.

What does the author mean by speed of hurt here?

  • How quickly do you feel pain? That is just a very convoluted way of saying "quickly", and at the same time conveying that the teenager also would live every occasion of her life regardless of the emotional and physical cost (being hurt being an obvious negative effect) – NofP Jan 29 '19 at 11:28

I believe the whole phrase is "living faster than the speed of hurt" and it is a beautiful string of words. It conjures images of a young person, living life with enthusiasm, ferocity and courage; racing past life's challenges, over emotional hurtles and through dark moments without letting them steal her momentum, her joy of living.

The "speed of hurt" is the threshold below which pain is real. Summer's young character believes she can outrun the anguish which living brings. I haven't read this particular book, but I would not be surprised if later in its pages, she learns that pain is a lot faster runner than she currently believes it is.

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The phrase is by analogy to "the speed of sound" and "the speed of light." On Earth, sound travels at a roughly constant speed through the atmosphere. If you are traveling faster than the speed of sound, it means a sound traveling the same direction from the same origin as you can never catch up.

So an eighteen-year-old traveling faster than the "speed of hurt" is moving so quickly through life (identities, relationships, settings, moods) that no pain or hurt can possibly catch up with her.

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