Thursday, April 24, 2014

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Book Summary
Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels. Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation. But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

Book Nerds Jacque & Flo with Jeri at the RT Convention a few years ago.

Flo's Review
The Book Nerds LOVE Jeri, so you know we were all over this book as soon as it came out! Like, I didn't even know what it was about and I put it on hold at the library -- and I was #1 in the hold queue, thank you very much! 

There were so many things I loved about this book -- I kind of don't know where to start. I loved that different points of view were given and all were given a chance. There were a lot of what some may call "fanatical" views that some of the characters held, but they weren't written about in a judgement kind of way. That's one of the best things about David and Bailey's relationship -- their views on religion weren't the same but she tried to understand him and he tried to understand her. And they learned from each other.

I felt really bad for David because he felt such responsibility for his parents. Understandable, but a lot for a kid to take on. I loved the ending for being realistic, happy, and hopeful. I loved that when David was all in something, he was ALL in. Bailey, baseball, Kane, even trying to help his father. I usually don't like stories that aren't told linearly and this one is not. But I understand why it was done that way, and I can see how that takes quite some skill on the writer. This book was such a breeze to read -- I got through most of it on a short flight, where the guy sitting next to me was like, "Wow! You almost read the whole book on this flight!" 

And, of course, I have to mention that my name is in the book! Yes, Jeri has suggested that this cat was named after the lead singer in Florence + the Machine, but in my happy bubble it's totally named after me:

Jacque's Review:

The story is told from David Cooper's point of view.  He is a sixteen year-old high school student who is anything but your typical boy.  Prior to the start of the book he experienced the traumatic loss of an older brother and turned to religion as a means of coping.  Meanwhile, his father went completely off the deep end.  He lost his job and stated talking in "Bibleish"....he only uses bible quotes when speaking.  I can't even imagine how many hours Jeri must have spent researching possible bible quotes to apply to conversations about the weather, video games, school, baseball and other every day situations.

David and his older sister Mara are home schooled, but David is the star pitcher for the local high school team.  They attend community college and other courses outside of the home and seem to have a fairly normal social life....even though bringing friends home is a complete embarrassment unless their Dad is away.

David's parents believe the Rush...aka the going to take place in a couple of months and want their children to give up everything in preparation.  While David thinks his parents are crazy, he goes along with their wishes with one stipulation...his Dad has to seek counselling when the Rush doesn't happen. 

While the book has a religious undertone it by no means tries to influence anyone's beliefs.  It is more of a mystery as David, Mara, his girlfriend Bailey, and his best friend Kane try to solve the disappearance of his parents.  We get to experience a teenage boy's first experiences with dating from his perspective...which were VERY amusing.  We also get to spend a lot of time inside the head of a star athlete.  What is he thinking during a game, what goes into his training, etc.

Overall, I felt like this was a very well written and enjoyable story.  I gave it five out of five stars and would recommend it to all of my friends who are fans of YA.

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