cover image This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation

Jeri Smith-Ready. S&S/Simon Pulse, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3948-1

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.)