02 January 2013

Salvation by Anne Osterlund

Salvador Resendez--Salva to his friends--appears to have it all. His Mexican immigrant family has high expectations, and Salva intends to fulfill them. He's student body president, quarterback of the football team, and has a near-perfect GPA. Everyone loves him.

Especially Beth Courant, AKA the walking disaster area. Dreamy and shy, Beth is used to blending into the background. But she's also smart, and she has serious plans for her future.

Popular guy and bookish girl--the two have almost nothing in common. Until fate throws them together and the attraction is irresistible. Soon Beth is pushing Salva to set his sights higher than ever--because she knows he has more to offer, more than even he realizes.

Then tragedy strikes--and threatens to destroy everything that Salva has worked for. Will Beth's love be enough to save him?

Salvation set a fire under me the very moment I found out that it existed.  I fell head over heels in love with Anne Osterlund's previous books, Academy 7 and Aurelia (and later, Exile).  So I knew beforehand that Salvation was very likely to win my heart.  And it did.  From page one, I was captured.  Enthralled, really, by the main characters and the story that wove around them.  I liked how Romeo & Juliet it was without seeming like a cheesy remake, and also how the plot was slightly predictable, but exciting all the same.  Salvation was a fantastic read, with a set of characters I'd love to have lunch with.  Over...and over...and over again.

I was already familiar with Anne Osterlund's envious talent for crafting such depth-defying, lovable main characters, but it still blew me away how much I fell for Salva and Beth, both separately and as a couple.  Both had characteristics that I could identify with -- like Salva's loyalty to family and culture, and Beth's need to take her life onto a higher plane.  When the two came together, it was electric, though not perfect.  The imperfections were what drew me into their relationship like an obnoxious third wheel.  Even when they realized their feelings for each other, it didn't magically lay a smooth path before them, and I think that was my favorite part about the book.  It made their relationship deep and more realistic.

I love the wealth of culture imbued throughout the story.  Reminiscent of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, there are bits of Spanish thrown in.  Which, if you're a veteran of the Fuentes brothers, you know is completely hot.  But besides that, there was the topic of how Mexican immigrants live in this country and I liked how Anne Osterlund presented and handled it.  It gave the story a core of truth that I really enjoyed.

I also enjoyed how the plot progressed.  With the essence of a Romeo & Juliet style romance, and fraught with just as much tragedy, I was glued to the pages as the story unfolded.  What a breathtaking ending!  With an expert hand, Anne Osterlund brought each of the characters to a climax that was both split with tragedy and filled with hope.  And while some of the scenes were a bit of a cliche, I was too much in love with the characters to really see them that way.

Salvation is a fantastic addition to Anne Osterlund's repertoire.  It was so much fun to read with its subtle humor woven amongst brilliantly devised characters and an exciting plot.  Even knowing that I was going to love it, I'm still taken aback at just how much I would turn out to love it.  I can't wait for Anne Osterlund's next book.

Please note that this quote is from an uncorrected proof.  My reason for sharing it is because the short passage caught me with its originality.  So many times, I've read about how absolutely boooorring a high school period can be and with very little description from book to book.  Behold:

He returned his gaze to the ceiling and began to invent geometric proofs with the holes in the panels.  The rest of the class period dragged by like an overblown big-budget movie with a series of false endings.  When the bell finally rang, Salva didn't trust his own senses.
Book Info

  • pages - paperback, 288
  • published - January 2013
  • publisher - Penguin Young Readers Group
  • genre - contemporary
  • received via - author
  • rating - 5/5