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This Side of Salvation Paperback – March 17, 2015
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—An honest portrayal of a family dashed apart by grief and in much need of salvation. David's family is still reeling from his military brother's death three years ago, and all but older sister Mara have embraced God as a way to cope. A former alcoholic, David's dad has abandoned his addiction to the bottle for an all-consuming and unhealthy relationship with religion, talking only through Bible verses and aligning himself with a fundamentalist preacher that promises the Rapture (or Rush) will occur in just a few months. All David wants is to get a baseball college scholarship and possibly lose his virginity to new girl Bailey. Told in alternating Then (leading up the Rush) and Now (after the Rush) chapters, the narrative frankly depicts a teen struggling with finding a balance between religion and his own desires. After a slow start, the momentum quickens as readers learn the mystery behind John's tragic death and the fate of the disappeared parents. Smith-Ready respectfully gives voice to those who question their beliefs, while providing teens a fascinating look into Doomsday cults. The secondary characters are not as well-developed as the protagonist, who finds fault with his church's rejection of his gay best friend and continuously prays to God for guidance. The ending might be too pat for some but will ring true for those rooting for this family's redemption. Give to fans of Melissa C. Walker's Small Town Sinners (Bloomsbury, 2011) or Lara Zielin's Donut Days (Putnam, 2009).—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* David, 16, and his sister, Mara, mourned plenty over the military death of their older brother. Their parents, however, shifted their religiousness to a higher gear, with Dad speaking entirely in Bibleish (biblical quotes) and both parents becoming disciples of a charismatic preacher who predicts the Rapture—or the Rush, as she calls it—will occur on May 11 at 3 a.m. For this smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale, Smith-Ready juggles two time lines. The first begins on the morning of the Rush, when David and Mara return late from a party to find that their parents have vanished right on schedule. Assuming that the Rush is a ridiculous notion, has something terrible, such as a dual-suicide, occurred? The second time line brings us up to speed on the past nine years, a slow-motion train wreck during which the siblings are gradually asked to abandon all earthly pursuits. This is a deceptively easy read in the Dana Reinhardt vein, but Smith-Ready intersects both time periods with aplomb, bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self—while never being heavy-handed. It ends up being quite a mystery and a believable one at that. An eye-opening look at the limits, uses, and misuses of faith. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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Jeri Smith-Ready’s latest book grapples with difficult topics that many of us struggle to understand.
In the end, the story is an eloquent portrayal of love and loss, hope and despair. And healing.
This Side of Salvation is so different from any other books I’ve ever read and I don’t mean it just because the theme of religion is part of the book but because it really made me think about a lot of things, it’s complex and deep; truly special! Me, I was raised a catholic but I was not offended at any moment that I read this book, one is definitely free to believe whatever they want but I don’t think that should translate into being intolerant to other’s beliefs so anyway, if you’re worried about that, you shouldn’t be.
After the tragic death of his older brother, David’s family was devastated in grief but then religion seem to help them (pretty much his parents) cope and survive, although for him and his sister Mara they haven’t really lived; their parents are very strict about how things are supposed to go and now they have them getting ready for the Rush, in which only people who are are true believer will be saved. But David is only 16 years old, how can a teenager give up on what’s so important for him: his girlfriend, his friends, baseball… so instead of being home waiting to be Rushed, he and his sister Mara are on a prom party and when they return they discover that his parents have disappeared.
David is an amazing character and is wonderfully written. The whole book is told from his POV and the structure of the book was one of my favorite aspects; the chapters go back and forth in time; we start from the “now” but then it flashes back to years, months or days away from his present. I think this was great and it made the story more dynamic because you start to wonder about events from the past and then you get to know things like the impact of his brother’s death on his family, how he knew his girlfriend Bailey and how their relationship developed, etcetera. You get the whole background of how life has been for David and for me that only made me care more for him, to say life hasn’t been easy for him would be an understatement and seeing how much his family has suffered, he would like nothing more than for everything to be at least better. Religion has been a comfort for David and he is a believer but that doesn’t mean he accepts everything without questioning or that he doesn’t disagrees with certain things, he keeps an open mind and I quite liked that.
Another great thing in the book is the relationships between the characters; they’re all very real and moving. Like with Bailey I found it pretty cool that despite how different they are they still get along so well. He comes from a religious family and his beliefs are important to him but then you have Bailey whose parents are sort of hippie, and she is a girl who believes in scientific facts, you would definitely think these two can’t be more opposite but neither one tries to change the other opinions, they accept how they are and can even agree to disagree on certain things and move on. Reading about these two was something I completely loved!!
I went through every emotion on this book, I was happy, frustrated, angry, hopeful, sad, it’s an emotional roller aster and I was fully immersed in the story. One might think the plot goes slow or something but it wasn’t like that all, for me I thought it always maintained an aura of mystery and suspense. The characters are not 100% good or bad, there are no extremes here but rather different shades of gray, they make mistakes; they do what they think it’s right, they are and I have to use this word again “real”.
I could go on but I’d just keep babbling about its awesomeness, like how great Jeri is writing from a guy’s POV, how beautiful the story is, so my advice to all of you is to please buy and read this book, there’s no other like it.
I've been a fan of Smith-Ready for a while now; this is my favorite of her books. Fresh & enjoyable, while making you think.
This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Copy from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 in 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...
What I Liked:
Before I begin my review, I want to mention something about the religion. I saw on Goodreads that a lot of other reviewers started by saying something about their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). I don't think it's important to mention my religious beliefs, but I will say that this book does involve religion. That being said, I don't think there is a religious THEME, necessarily. But religious beliefs are crucial in this book. Do you see the difference? This isn't necessarily a religious YA novel. It's a YA novel that involves religious content. The story matters more than the actual religion, even though the religion makes the story. Basically, don't let it bother you (if religion would be something to bother you).
So. After David's brother John was killed (quite terribly, I might add), David's parents turn to religion - specifically, a woman who claims that the Rapture (actually, the "Rush") is coming soon, and that the "rushing" families must prepare themselves, because the time is coming. Sounds familiar, right? There have been many cults like this, when a perhaps claims that the Rapture is coming, so sell all your worldly belongings and come follow the person! Oh, and give them all your money.
David himself is a Christian, and believes in the Bible. But, he thinks the Rush is a bit ridiculous. He is with his prom date (at prom) when the Rush happens, on May 11th at 3 a.m. (I think I got that right!). When he and his sister come home (she wasn't his prom date, don't worry), they find their parents gone, with their pajamas in the bed - as if their parents' bodies simply vanished out of their clothes.
I found this story very interesting, to be honest. I've read a thousand and one stories about Rapture claims and cults and so-called prophets, even all that mess with May 20th and December 20th in 2012 or whatever. I'm going to keep my beliefs out of this review (or try), but I've always believed that those cults were (and are) bogus, and are led by people who just want your money.
That's how David feels, and Mara (his sister). And his girlfriend, Bailey. And his best friend Kane. And everyone. David doesn't believe in the Rush, but he agreed to give up everything - baseball, Math Cave (home-school group something), Bailey, Kane - but only if his parents would get help, if the Rush didn't happen. Crazy, right? And David actually followed through with his part of the deal.
This book is split into alternating points in the story. It's told completely in David's perspective (first person, at that), but every other chapter alternates between the present time, and sometime in the past, from when John first died, to when the parents first heard of Sophie Visser and the Rush, right up until the present. I absolutely LOVE that Jeri Smith-Ready did this - and the way she constructed the two parts of the story was excellent. Usually, I hate the jumping back and forth between time (it just gets annoying and confusing after a while), but I think it really worked well in this story. Especially since the things being revealed from the past really matched up with David's thoughts as well as things happening in the present. I don't know how to explain that... trust me, it's really great.
The romance in this story is simple and beautiful - I really like David and Bailey together. From the start, we know that they are the couple of the story. BUT, the flipping back and forth between the present and the past shows us how their relationship started and grew. I really like this, because it's a different way of showing readers a developing relationship. We already knew it happened, and we knew key things about the relationship from the very beginning of the book, but it's so sweet to see things progress. This is an instance in which the flipping between present and past really works.
I enjoyed reading from David's perspective. He isn't quite the typical teenage boy - he's definitely a lot more religious than the vast majority of teenagers in general, he's home-schooled, but he's also a dedicated athlete (and now I think I'm obsessed with baseball players all over again... thanks, Katie McGarry and Jeri Smith-Ready!). David's personality is definitely an agreeable one, as was Mara's, Bailey's, and Kane's. I wouldn't have minded reading this book from any of their perspectives - but David's was the pertinent.
The plot of this book is a bit slow, but in a good way. We get parts of the present, we get parts of the past. Not much time passes in the present, but YEARS are shown from the past. The climax of the book is obvious, but there are a few twists at the end. Overall, the plot is really solid, and the pacing is good. I'm glad this book is a standalone - it ended really well (not necessarily GOOD or BAD, but WELL).
What I Did Not Like:
Off the top of my head, I think the only things I might not have liked were the slow-ish plot, but it didn't bother me too much. I didn't read this book in one sitting - which usually means that I hit a boring or not-so-interesting part, and had to take a break, but eh, it happens.
Overall, I'm really pleased with this book. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I did!
Would I Recommend It:
This book probably isn't for everyone, I can say that now. However, I think that anyone open-minded enough to read it will at least like it! Look past the religion, and you've got a really great and intriguing story! I mean, come on, don't you want to know if David's parents were really caught up in the Rapture (excuse me, I mean, the Rush)? Read it!
4 stars. I can successfully say that I have enjoyed all of Jeri Smith-Ready's published, full-length novels! And I'll definitely be reading what she has in store for us in the future.
Most recent customer reviews
This book does contain religious elements, however it is not about whether you believe or not.Read more