Saturday, March 01, 2014

Starred Review from Booklist for This Side of Salvation!

This one's been burning up my inbox for almost a month, since I had to wait until Booklist's publication date to share it. Now that day has arrived, with one month to go until This Side of Salvation's release!

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have already weighed in with 100% positive reviews (I used my special author superpowers to read between the lines for anything negative), so TSOS is 3 for 3 so far when it comes to the major review publications. None of my previous novels have even been reviewed by more than two of these journals at once, so this is a major milestone for me.

Anyway, Booklist said:

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 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. — Daniel Kraus

I love how he describes the Cooper family's unraveling as a "slow-motion train wreck." Sadly, that's often the way it is with families when they don't get the help they need to cope with tragedy.

The part I italicized made me do a little dance, especially the "spirit versus body" part. It took me back to when I was writing TSOS and listening to Arcade Fire's Neon Bible album EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. When it got to the last song, "My Body is a Cage," I would think about David's internal war between his physical and spiritual desires. It wasn't the stereotypical religious kid's black-and-white choice where he felt he had to remain physically or sexually "pure" to get into heaven. It was broader than that, as he tried to figure out what it meant to be in the world but not of the world.

Anyway, these philosophical issues are always percolating in my head while I'm writing, but it's hard to not to lose sight of them while trying to create a gripping story. It's nice to know that some of the stuff in my brain actually made it onto the page, stayed there through every draft and edit, then clicked with someone else's consciousness.

So yay.

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Awesome!! So, so, so happy for you!

Posted by: Blogger Judy (shellseeker93) at 3/01/2014 4:41 PM

Thanks, Judy!! *grins from ear to ear*

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/07/2014 8:33 AM

I am excited to read your new novel but honestly I am nervous too! I don't know what to expect since you mentioned "faith". This is an interesting topic and one that I feel is personal to me. So yeah, I'm a bit nervous. Only one thing I'm sure of...that this book is beautifully written.
Congratulations on your accomplishments :) I am hapoy for you and i knownthat you deserve them. You're very talented and super uber nice and fun and accommodating and appreciative and friendly... That's why you are my favorite. God bless you more and more!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/07/2014 9:48 AM

Thank you so much, April! I understand your concerns about a book that deals with issues of faith. You are definitely not alone! If it helps, Sana at Step Into Fiction addresses that in her recent review, which starts out like this:

So I am not going to lie, I went into this book a bit hesitant. Religion can be a very sensitive topic for some, myself included. But Jeri Smith-Ready is one of my favorite young adult authors. So I really wanted to give this book a chance, and put my own personal beliefs aside and just enjoy the story for what it truly is. This Side of Salvation is a touching and beautiful story filled with tragedy, despair, guilt, and acceptance."

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/09/2014 12:10 PM

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This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation, Jeri's new contemporary YA novel!

Now available in hardcover and ebook.

“A smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self.” —Booklist, **Starred Review**


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"Shattered," a Shade novella!

Available here on this website as a free download in all major ebook formats, as well as a printable PDF (now with photos!).

More about "Shattered"

About the author

Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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