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This Side of Salvation Paperback – March 17, 2015
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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.
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Top customer reviews
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.
David is a great voice to read from and I really liked him. He has dealt with a lot of grief in his life and my heart breaks for him. His family is broken and he just doesn’t know how to get through to them anymore. I struggled with his parents a lot. Mostly because I didn’t like the way they treated their children. I felt as if they did not come first for them, and they should. While I liked David, I have to say my favorite character was Mara. I’m not really sure what exactly it was about her, but there was something. Maybe it’s because she named her cat after Tod from Soul Screamers or maybe it is just because she is very strong and independent, but there was definitely something.
I think my favorite thing about this book was the relationships. This book explores different kind of relationships and how they affect you. You have David and Bailey’s relationship which is really sweet. I loved it because they didn’t always agree, but they never pushed each other to believe something they would have been uncomfortable with. Then there is David’s relationship with his parents, which is strained to say the least, but he still loved them and is willing to do a lot to help them. And then there is David’s relationship with his sister Mara, which was my favorite. I loved how supportive they were of one another and that they could always count on one another despite their sometimes differing beliefs.
This Side of Salvation is just an all-around good read. It’s not something I would normally pick up, but I am very glad I did. This author has never let me down before, and This Side of Salvation was no exception. It’s a beautiful Young Adult Contemporary read.
Most recent customer reviews
This book does contain religious elements, however it is not about whether you believe or not.Read more