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Review for This Side Of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

This Side of Salvation - Jeri Smith-Ready

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews


David more or less gave up his life 40 days ago.  He's parents believe in this crazy thing called The Rush, which is basically the Rapture where all the good people are called up to heaven and the baddies get stuck on Earth for the apocalypse.  He thinks they are nuts, but he also thinks they need help and he agrees to follow their crazy path, if they swear to get help after the Rushed date comes and nothing happens.  But giving up everything hasn't been easy.  He misses his friends, his girlfriend, and baseball like nobodies business.  Now the rush has come and gone....and his parents are nowhere to be seen.  Can he uncover the mystery of where his parents went?  Did they go home to Jesus or is there are more Earthly explanation?

I started this with a bit of trepidation.  For me, religion and fiction don't mix...actually they do because in many cases because I am an atheist so most religions feel a bit fictional to me, but that's beside the point.  In my experience, YA and religion don't mix well unless it's a christian (or insert specified religion here) novel.  There are very few authors that can even touch of the subject of religion without feeling preachy.  I hate being preached to, so I was more than a little nervous here.  But I have loved everything I've read by Jeri, so I knew I had to give it a chance.  She handles the subject matter exceedingly well.  David is heavily religious no matter how you look at it so a good portion of this deals with God and the Bible and so on, but I never felt like Jeri was attempting to push that path on me.  

Speaking of David, I both applaud his dedication to his family and want to smack him upside his head.  The moment when he realizes that he has truly given up everything important in his life for this ridiculous religious ideal his parents are trying to push on him, I wanted to rail at him.  How the fuck could you do that?  I truly praise you for being so dedicated to forcing your father into the therapy he so desperately needs, but is it really worth it?  Aren't teenagers supposed to rebel?  Aren't you supposed to use those years to realized that it's your life and not theirs and you must live it to your standards?  And don't even get me started on his parents!  How can you do that to your kids?  Take away their hopes for the future and force them to give up something so important?  Especially when you know certain truths that I won't reveal?  You sir and madam win the bad parent of the year award, along with all the other Rushers.

Mara is the sibling I could really embrace.  She's the "good" child who finally rebels when Mom & Pop attempt to force her into Rushing.  She promptly utters a fuck off and says she'll pay for her schooling herself if they won't help and proceeds to live her life as independently as she can while still residing under their roof.  How can I not love the girl who can't make herself believe in God and insists on continuing her education despite her idiotic parents naysaying?  

This is one of those complex novels that really makes you stop and think about how far you'd go to save your family.  Would you be willing to temporarily sacrifice everything?  Knowing that you may never get back to where you were?  Will your girlfriend still love you when this is over?  Will your baseball team let you back in the game (tehehehe, you lose)?  It's pretty addictive, trying to figure out the mystery of the rush.  

I only had small two small issues.   The first being I'm not a baseball fan and therefore I don't particularly enjoy reading about baseball.  It wasn't terribly bad, only having a few scenes in the field, but I could have done without them.  The second being the way it was written, jumping back and forth between before the Rush and after.  I really appreciate the effort in trying to tell the story in a different way and how it catches your attention because you start off with the mystery of where the hell the parents are, but every time it switched time frames, I wanted to skip ahead and see where that particular timeline went.  It would have been a bit less frustrating if it was told in a linear timeline.  
 
Beyond those two issues, I really enjoyed this.  It was so much more than I was expecting and it couldn't be more different than Jeri's previous works.  No paranormal romance here, just fanatic Christians and a boy's journey to come to save what's left of his family.  I recommend it for anyone wanting a novel that will leave you thinking.

****Thank you to Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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