This Side of Salvation

Finished This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready. I received a copy from the publisher.

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 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…”

I absolutely love Jeri Smith-Ready and her books.  This is, I think, her first contemp YA, and I put off reading it for a long time.  It’s not that I didn’t think I’d love it; it’s that once I read it, I’ve read all her books.  And now that I have, I’m sad.  Why can’t the authors I love be as prolific as, say, James Patterson?

But enough whining.  This is an incredibly smart story about faith and grief, two of my favorite topics.  It goes back and forth in time, pre- and post-Rush, the rapture that David’s…pastor, I guess? has predicted.  His parents have gone all in for this event, and have even spent the 40 days pre-predicted Rush repenting and breaking away from worldly things.  David has, too, but it’s not so much that he believes it’ll happen as the fact that he’s pretty sure it’s the only way to save his family.  And since his brother died, he can feel the entire family splintering and this is the only way he can think of to keep it together.

If you haven’t read any of her books, start here and then go to her Shade trilogy. (Oh God those books.  They are some of my absolute favorites ever.)

Highly recommended.

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