This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

a standalone
published on April 1st 2014 by Simon Pulse
contemporary | spiritual | romance

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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 in 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…

REVIEW

*Thank you to Simon Pulse for the review copy!

First things first–I want you guys to know that this review will be coming from the perspective of a religious person, a believer, at that. I don’t know if you’d have different thoughts on this one if you’re from a different religion or don’t have one.

Honestly, when I went into the novel, I thought that it’d be about a non-believer who went against his parents’ beliefs. Boy, was I wrong. David believes in God, but he doesn’t believe in the Rush/Rapture. He didn’t let his parents (or his non-believer sister) influence what he believed in, and I really liked that about him. Okay, David definitely wasn’t the best character out there, but he was a really believable one. He made mistakes, grieved, fell in love, supported his friends–he really acted like a teen, in my opinion.

“It’s one thing to compete with another girl. But I can’t compete with God.” –Bailey (83% in the eARC)

A big part of the novel was the romance. I expected that from the synopsis, but after reading most of the “now” chapters (there are alternating “then” and “now” chapters), I was expecting more religion and family, less romance. Still, I thought it was okay. There weren’t much feels, but I did swoon a little every now and then. The relationship between David and Bailey had development and was slightly realistic, considering they dated for months before dropping the “L” word.

But David didn’t just focus on Bailey. He also had his best friend (Kane), who never left his side. David was also very supportive of Kane when he came out. He didn’t let his parents disgrace Kane for his sexuality and still hung out with him, not giving a damn about what other people might think.

“When God closes a door, He opens a can of tear gas.” — 7% in the eARC

Let’s talk a bit about the religious aspect of the novel, which I did enjoy and was able to relate to. In the novel, it was explained (and shown) that his older brother John had died in the military. It was a sad death that led to his parents’ current belief in God. I think this is what happened to our family as well. When my grandfather passed away years ago, we just turned very religious. Every person has a different person to believe, so I liked how the novel kind of showed that.

It also showed the problems of being a believer. Sometimes, what they teach in Church isn’t a realistic thing to believe in, right? Or sometimes, there are certain things that just seem highly unlikely. There are days when you questioned your beliefs. I think that was my favorite aspect of the novel–how realistic the religious aspect was.

The novel started out a bit weakly and slowly, but things start picking up towards the middle. Maybe I only thought that it was slow because the writing was a little bit plain? I read her other book, Shade, and didn’t really have anything against her writing there, though. Back to this novel. The twist was definitely surprising for me and I honestly didn’t see it coming.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read, although a few times I felt like hitting someone or falling asleep. I would recommend it to the more patient readers who are interested in family, friendship, romance and religion. As well as finding your own strengths and beliefs.

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Let’s discuss! Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven’t, will you be picking it up anytime soon?
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28 thoughts on “Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

    1. I don’t read a lot of religious novels, either. D: But this one wasn’t preachy at all–it actually talks a lot about not believing in some things, which I found really believable. And yes, so many gorgeous covers this year!! <3

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  1. David does sound like a really likeable protagonist! I really hate those characters that are sleazily swayed by other people’s opinions.

    Great review, girlie! <33

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  2. I’m a bit worried about the falling-asleep part. Heh…and also religious books aren’t really my thing. I’m religious, but for some reason I don’t reeeally like to read it. Weird, yes. It can get so sticky when you dive into those gritty details, though, eh? I’ll probably skip this one just because I don’t like to falling asleep reading.

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    1. I don’t really read a lot of religious books, either. O-O It wasn’t really boring, but it might be for people who aren’t into religious books, haha!

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  3. Personally (As a believer :D), I think its hard to write a review with religious aspects in it. But you were really spot on with this one. After you said that it had “feels”, I knew I needed to read this. But after your review. I can’t wait to check this out! :D

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  4. You have a bit worried about “falling asleep”, haha. That doesn’t sound very promising! Aside from that, this book does sound pretty good. I’m glad it managed to portray different reasons to believe and how they are different for everybody.

    Great review <33

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  5. This sounds really interesting – especially what the twist could be if the rapture did happen! I’m not very into religious stories though, but it was great to read your thoughts on this one. I’m glad the religious angle was well-done in this story!

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  6. I’m not really religious at all, but I’m very curious about it. Frankly, religion and faith always baffle me a little bit. I have friends that are very serious believers of God but I never quite understand why. I imagine this book would be pretty enlightening in those aspects. I don’t think I care much about this romance here but I’m quite intrigued by the mystery that is his parents’ disappearance. I might check this out when it releases :)

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    1. I think it seriously depends on how you’re brought up. If your parents are believers, you’re most likely going to be one as well, because they’re going to teach you all about God as you grow up. I think that’s how it is for me. I do believe in God, but there are some things that they taught me that I don’t believe in, like saints. The reason they disappeared was definitely a twist, but it was kind of a stupid reason, haha!

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  7. Thanks for sharing that the religious aspect was realistic. I’ll keep in mind that the pacing was a little slow at first. And after reading your review, I wonder what might have happened with the parents. Adding this to my wishlist now. :)

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    1. Yay! Finally, someone who’s open to reading religious novels, haha! I guess it isn’t something most people dive into, but I like to branch out every now and then. I hope you enjoy, Henrietta!

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  8. Certainly an interesting story! I don’t think I would be reading this though because religion personally makes me feel very uncomfortable as I’m a freethinker and am not religious in any way but it’s good to know that the religion aspect was handled in a realistic manner :) Great review Aimee!

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    1. There are a lot of things that my parents taught me that I still don’t believe it, and it’s great that you openly state your disbelief, Charlotte. :)

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  9. I like that it’s a stand-alone; I’m committed to too many series already. But, I think I might need something that’s a little faster-paced; falling asleep while reading is never a good sign. Thanks for the heads up!

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  10. I’m glad you found David to be a good MC to tell the story. Also yay for no insta-love and occasional swoon:) I don’t think I’d really want to read this book since I’m not religious, don’t have any problems with people who believe or who are even the tiniest bit of religious, but I don’t deal well with religious books. (The only ones I know that are religious and I own are Miranda Kenneally’s books, but since the first book wasn’t so heavily focused on religion it didnt bother me that much.) Anyhow, I’m glad that this novel managed to surprise you and won you over by the end:)

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    1. I think Miranda Kenneally’s books were my only religious ones before this one as well! They weren’t heavy on it, like you said, so they didn’t really feel like religious books. Thanks for stopping by, Siiri! :)

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