Friday, March 19, 2010

Saving Maddie (YA)

Saving Maddie. Varian Johnson. 2010. March 2010. Random House. 240 pages.

"Hurry up," she yelled, dust blowing in her wake as she ran down the dirt trail. "You're slower than a three-legged dog."

Joshua Wynn is a seventeen-year-old guy on a mission. His dad wants him to "save" Maddie from herself. His mom, well, his mom doesn't really want Joshua spending time with Maddie. Who is Maddie? Why does she need saving? And why is Joshua the guy who can save her?

Maddie, like Joshua, is a preacher's kid. Before Maddie and her family moved away, these two kids were close. They were best friends even. She promised to always, always write him, to stay in touch no matter what. But there came a time when she didn't.

Now five years after she left, Maddie has come back. But this Maddie is all grown up. (She's 18.) She's dressing differently, acting differently. And one more thing, she's decided that church isn't for her. That organized religion isn't for her. She still believes in God, but she'd rather believe in him in her own space, in her own way. She's way more questioning than Joshua. (Though not necessarily more questioning than the other teens in Joshua's youth group.)

Joshua's parents have it from Maddie's parents that their daughter has gone astray. That is why they have sent her to stay with her aunt. Can spending time with the ultimate nice guy, "save" Maddie and show her the errors of her way?

Or will spending time with Maddie show Joshua another side of himself? Is this other side something to be encouraged?

Life and faith are explored in a very vulnerable, very authentic way.

I think the book does deal with real-life issues--premarital sex, using foul language, drinking, drugs, rebelling from authority figures, etc--in a realistic way.

I did like both Joshua and Maddie. I thought both characters were complex and vulnerable in their own ways.

I wouldn't say that I loved the way faith was presented in Saving Maddie. I think Joshua's parents--not to mention Maddie's parents--are missing some critical things. For example, they talk about rightness and wrongness only from the standpoint that Joshua is a preacher's son, that he was born to be a role model. Yes, that's true he is the son of a preacher. But whether he is or isn't that is not the most important thing. If something is wrong, in my opinion, it is wrong no matter if you're the son of a preacher or the son of an electrician. It doesn't matter what your parents do, who they are. It matters what you do. (It isn't so much about reflecting badly on your parents as it is living a life that is right before God's eyes. And even then it isn't so much about being perfect. It's about trusting in a Savior.) Their focus on the external--focusing only on how things appear to be--is unfortunate. I'm not saying that people aren't like that. That people don't judge others based on how things appear. It's just that it's sad when they do. Because they miss the big picture when they do. Only God can judge the heart, judge the intentions.

Other reviews: Biblio File, Book Nut, A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Cleverly Inked 10:57 PM  

Stumbled upon your blog..Love it.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

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