Even the sweetest faith can taste sour when it’s used as poison…
I picked up this book on impulse. I loved the title and the book cover design was beautiful, I thought. As I’ve stated before, I don’t read much contemporary, but I’m trying to make more of an effort and expand my reading horizons.
This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready is a contemporary, coming-of-age story, that explores the journey of David as he and his family prepare for the Rapture – or the Rush, as they call it. It’s a story about faith and the extremes it can take us to when everything we once had seems to have abandoned us.
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…
The story passes between the present time – Now, after the Rush was supposed to happen – and a countdown from the months before the Rush. At first I wasn’t crazy about the constant back and forth, but about halfway through the book I grew to like it. It had a good purpose of adding suspense – end the chapter will a gasp and then flash back to the past and the suspense builds. Also, it helps shape out a complete picture of what it was like then and now.
I liked David as a main character. He wasn’t the typical moody, rebellious, anti-religious character I expected, but he wasn’t a blind sheep either. He questioned a lot of things, argued against his parents, and was, overall, a great dynamic character. I also liked Bailey, the new girl he develops a crush on. The two of them had great chemistry, and a whole lot of sexy.
I found this book to be a slow burn, in terms of plot and the relationship between David and Bailey. All aspects of this book were more about the journey to the end, not what was waiting for them when they arrived. I really appreciated the value put on the events in the books in themselves, not just as steps towards an ending, because to me, the end result of the story was pretty obvious. But I wasn’t really concerned about how things were going to work out, but was more focused on the character’s personality and growth and the story behind their lives.
In all, I thought this was a really interesting story. It brings up a lot of questions about faith itself, and about how much is too much faith, if there can be such a thing. I thought it did an excellent job not painting religious believers as crazy, but not making them flawless. It was a fairly true-to-life depiction of faith.
“Where was I? Oh, yeah, pain. I think it’s the same when we lose someone. It never stops hurting. But maybe it shouldn’t. That pain, after all, is a souvenir of our love.”
Her silvery gaze ripped me in two. No, not ripped – undid me, like my spine was a zipper she was pulling down.