These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
PW Reviews 2014 February #3
Grief at the death of oldest son John Cooper drives a wedge between his remaining family members. His parents find solace in a fringe Christian movement, which 17-year old Mara rejects, while 16-year-old narrator David tries to bridge all fissures. On the night that cult leader Sophia declares the Rush (Rapture) will occur, David and Mara return from a forbidden after-prom party to find their parents gone; the clothes left on their bed give the appearance that they vanished. Chapters alternate between “Now,” the time after the parents’ disappearance, and preceding years, with David recounting events progressively closer to the present. Suspense builds in both time frames: the circumstances of John’s death remain ambiguous until the end, while the mystery involving the Cooper parents unfolds as David, Mara, and close friends unravel clues. A homeschooled, competitive baseball player, David wrestles with his parents’ rigid and bizarre biblical interpretations, which ironically prods his own spiritual journey in a different direction. Smith-Ready (the Shade trilogy) combines a thought-provoking exploration of faith with high-stakes family drama to create a page-turner with real heft. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Apr.)
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School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2014 May
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
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Booklist Reviews 2014 March #1
*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.
Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
Following the death of his soldier brother, David’s grief-stricken parents have turned to religion–specifically a fundamentalist cult–for solace. His recovering-alcoholic father speaks only in Bible verses; his mother is fixated on the upcoming Rapture, or Rush. When his parents disappear, David must untangle the mystery. Chapter flashbacks to “Before the Rush” alternate with “Now” in this nuanced study of relationships, religion, and faith
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2014 April
The morning of the Rush, David and Mara find their parents clothes laid out in bed, as though they had just disappeared from inside them. They were supposed to be home with their parents for this most recent prediction of the rapture, but instead went to a prom after party. They determine three possible reasons for their parents’ disappearance: the Rush actually happened; their parents were kidnapped; or they committed suicide. What happens next is a compelling story as David and Mara deal with the loss of their parents, begin to investigate their disappearance, and set off to find the cult that took them. This Side of Salvation is told in a combination of current events and flashbacks to the days, months, and years leading up to the Rush. Readers learn what happened to David and Mara’s parents to make them embrace this extremist religion. Starting with the death of their older brother, grief sent the family spiraling downward until their father was speaking only in bible verses; and they were asked to give up all of their friends and plans for the future in preparation for the Rush. This is a frighteningly realistic story that delicately handles the issues of religion and family—an emotional mystery sure to be popular and perfect for discussion.—Kristi Sadowski. 4Q 5P J S
Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.