Review: Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez

Book Details

  • Author:  Sigrid Nunez
  • Genre:  Dystopia Literature
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN: 1594487669
  • Publisher: Riverhead (September 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Penguin Publishing
  • Cost:  $9.99 on Kindle, $25.95 print copy
  • Click to Purchase
  • Author’s Website
  • Author InterviewBelletrista

A Quick Reference:

  • Target Audience:  Adults, mature teens (please note:  this is not a YA book).
  • Pace of Book:  Fast in the beginning, slow in the middle, very fast at the end
  • Writing:  Easy to read
  • Profanity:  None, if there is any, it is minute.
  • Sexual Content:  None
  • Violence:  Very little
  • Christian Element:  While there is quite a bit of reference to Christianity, this is not a Christian book.
  • My Rating:  A good cupcake with a little icing, 3/5

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Before reading my review, please know that I am including spoilers.

To write an adequate review, I couldn’t exclude what happened in the book.

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This Review has SPOILERS!

My Review:

This is a story that starts out rather fast paced, in the beginning.  I remember reading this while at the nail salon and across from me, the nail technician had on a face mask.  Hmmm….a little too coincidental perhaps, but it really set the mood for the story.  I was immediately engulfed in what was happening to Cole and his parents, while also reaching for my own hand sanitizer.  This is a story that is quite possible, perhaps not plausible, but it certainly stirs emotions and raises questions.

Because this story is told through the perception of a young teenage boy, I did find myself asking lots of questions.  While it was rather creative to explore this pandemic flu crisis through the eyes of a child, at times, I wanted to hear from an adult.  Why?  Well, Cole does contract the illness and becomes gravely ill.  He does recover, however has the side effects of amnesia and his memories are rather choppy.  It would have been interesting to hear from his mom or dad, or another adult to give it an added dimension.  Nonetheless, Cole is quite a storyteller and his hallucinations/dreams/wishes of seeing his parents throughout the book is sometimes endearing and other times just spooky.

Cole is orphaned as a result of this pandemic flu that debilitates, kills, and forever changes the people of the world.  It was rather scary and somber to see so many people with limited resources, medications and protective gear (masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, etc).  It was surreal to see Cole ride his bike through the streets and recall his classmates, who were in school one day and dead the next.  While people are dying and the town is becoming rather ghost-like, people are also dealing with their everyday challenges of going to work, dealing with cancers, and trying to make the best out of a dire situation.

While a good portion of this book is based, or rather, shares Christian thoughts/ideas, this is NOT a Christian book.  However, I am a Christian and found it difficult to NOT read through a Christian lens.  So, the remainder of this review is based on that lens.

True, Christians get lumped together with everyone that believes Jesus is the Messiah. However, not all of us are the same in the way we choose to live our lives.  I didn’t feel that Christians were portrayed accurately in this book, nor did it give a good example of what a pastor and his wife do to lead their congregation.  The pastor has been married before and is a recovering alcoholic, who turns to alcohol (not God) when he breaks out in the shingles (or the “devil’s whip”, as it is referred to in the book).  As I mentioned earlier, it didn’t seem plausible to me that PW would have remained prayerful and steadfast in his faith, yet quickly turn to alcohol when he breaks out in shingles.  Tracy is uneducated, has a speech impediment, and is a fragile kind of woman, who homeschools Cole.  However, Tracy is obviously not qualified to teach and doesn’t think schooling is very important anyway.  This confused me because this was a family that lived in a town, where everyone relied on each other, shared their resources, and were not led by fear.  However, Tracy didn’t want Cole being “indoctrinated” with non-Christian beliefs.

Cole struggles with adhering to Christian beliefs because he doesn’t understand why his parents would be deemed to hell for not accepting Jesus into their heart.  When his community was turning their backs on one another, Christians (or Jesus freaks as Sigrid refers to them as), were issuing food and other resources that were scarce.  Cole’s mother didn’t want him opening the door to these “Jesus freaks”, yet it is them that comes to his rescue when he is gravely ill and  his mother and father have died.

Cole eventually goes to a orphanage, where the children are treated as if they are in a third world country orphanage.  I found it interesting that Sigrid Nunez didn’t refer to these places as shelters or group homes (as they are called today), which really gave it this morbid and horrible place to be at.  Cole becomes a foster child to a Christian family, who desire to adopt him.  Wyatt (or PW as Cole calls him) and Tracy see the world’s events as a sign that the “end times” are near.  However, PW and Tracy both embrace that and are not limited in their helping of others because of fear or worry.  PW encourages his congregation to help others and is reassuring during this time, which seemed a bit unbelievable to read PW turn to alcohol when he gets shingles.

Because everyone in Salvation City and abroad view children as “rapture children” (Singrid created this term, which she based on the indigo child).  A child as young as 3 begins preaching to at her church, children begin preaching all over the world and laying hands, and are basically seen as the final authority.  While there is a sideline story of Cole’s crush on Starlyn and Cole’s aunt entering the picture, the story is really based on Cole’s accounts and his point of view.

The end of the book ends rather quickly and seemed to me that children were being “raptured” at different times.  Cole sees these people as disappearing or running away, but I wondered if they were in fact being taken up to heaven to be joined with God.  Starlyn, a rapture child, is the first to disappear from Salvation City and the people become hysterical.  As they meet at church waiting on PW (who is drunk from the night before), the second in command preacher is Chem. Chem abruptly leaves the kitchen when Tracy enters, who is almost catatonic.  I was unsure as to why she was like that.  I also wondered if Chem had in fact been raptured up and left a notebook behind with one message.  That message, in my opinion was for Cole, as perhaps a last minute opportunity to truly commit to God.  However, Cole doesn’t see himself forgiving one person and rather than being raptured, he takes a bike ride through the town that is absolutely deserted and quiet. Thinking everyone has left the church to go home (although there is no indication for this), Cole begins to think of what his life will be like after he leaves Salvation City.

While Cole is thinking of his future, I was left wondering if he had in fact missed his opportunity to devout to God and also found myself wondering if anyone reading the book would indeed wonder if that is what is supposed to happen.  Because this isn’t a Christian book, nor is the author Christian, I am led to believe that my own opinions may not necessarily reflect what the author intended for her audience.  Again, I read this story through a Christian lens because there were so many references to Christianity and in the end, I felt that the message was not clear.  So, I suggest to other readers to read this with an open mind, not dive into it with a Christian lens, and perhaps you will leave with a completely different perspective.

In the end, I was confused about these flawed characters, uncomfortable with the inaccuracies to Christianity, and confused to what truly happens in the end.

Because this story is told with such authority, I think those searching God in their own lives will be given wrong information as to what it truly means to be “saved”, what the rapture truly is, and why bad things happen to good people.  I simply cannot end this review without providing some scriptures and resources.

Salvation by Grace

Scriptures on Salvation:

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”

Romans 8:16 ESV


“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

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For books on the rapture from a Christian perspective , I really enjoyed the Left Behind Series, as it is written by Christian authors

*This book was provided for free by Riverhead Trade, through participation in a virtual blog tour with Crazy Book Tours.  No forms of compensation were given.

Review: Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • ISBN:  1414333064
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (publication date: September 2011)
  • Genre:  Christian Fiction

Synopsis:

Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.

Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.

My Review:

Dry as Rain is Gina Holmes second book, following the success of Crossing Oceans.  It was interesting to read a book by a female author told through a male perspective.  I thought it added an interesting twist to many of the books I read.  When Kyra’s accident causes her to have amnesia and lose her memory of the past 5 years, Eric (her husband) has to decide what the “right thing is”.  Is it right to tell his wife that they are separated?  Is it right to lead her to believe that they are happily married?  What would anyone in Eric’s position do?

I have to admit, I tended to over analyze this storyline.  Over time, I found myself asking these questions:  Why is it that Kyra remembers everything else within those 5 years, except her marriage?  Is Kyra pretending to have amnesia to perhaps give Eric an opportunity to redeem himself?  How is it that everyone in Kyra’s life is also going along with this fantasty that the marriage is great and not on the rocks?

However, once I quit over thinking Kyra’s amnesia and why her loved ones would not step forward and disclose the truth, the book was quite enjoyable.  Of course, they were also just following doctor’s orders, too.

Dry as Rain does raise moral and ethical questions for me.  However, it was also very interesting to read what one man does to win his wife back and how he uses every opportunity to express his love and be the husband he wants to be.  Towards the end of the book, I felt the book came together rather nicely and was realistic to what Kyra chooses to do in regards to her marriage.

If you like Christian fiction, then you will enjoy this book.  If you like books that deal with relationships, you will also like this book.  If you don’t over analyze, this book is rather quite good!

  *A complimentary copy of this book was provided through NetGalley by Tyndale House Publishers, for an honest review.


My Very First Blog Award!!

Yesterday, I received an email from Samantha Leighanne from Leighanne’s Lit.  She gave me, along with some other bloggers, the Liebster Blog Award.  Any award makes my day…especially since I am a new blogger and love to know that there are readers out there who enjoy reading my posts.  However, being the researcher that I am, I decided to find out who created this award and what is it exactly for.

This is the information I found:

1.  Rumor has it that someone in Germany, possibly someone named Liebster, created an award for new bloggers to show appreciation and thanks for their blog.

3.  Liebster means “beloved” in German and Spanish.

2.  You can only receive the award from another blogger, who has also received the award. 

3.  Awards are to be passed forward to other bloggers, 3-5 blog sites, with followers of 300 or less.

4.  Once you give the award to a fellow blogger, you are to contact the blogger and let them know.

5.  Copy and paste the award on your blog.

So, I’d like to thank Leighanne for this wonderful honor!

In no specific order, I am awarding the Liebster Blog Award to the following bloggers:

1.  Julie at Booking Mama:  Julie introduced me to one of my all time favorite books: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  Julie is a busy momma, like me, and has the same love of books I do in the same genre!  So, I truly enjoy reading her book reviews.  AND…while I have not won a book yet from her blog, she gives some great book giveaways, too!

2.  Michelle at Life in Review: I enjoy reading Michelle’s blog posts.  While I am Christian, I have to admit that before last summer, I just didn’t read Christian fiction.  I would go to bookstores and scan them, deciding to buy a Bible or study book instead.  However, there have been some great break-authors and their writing has been incredible!  To my amazement and delight, Christian fiction covers topics that are real life situations, aren’t drowned with “you will burn in hell” statements, and are not cheesy whatsoever!  It has been nice to read a fellow blogger’s reviews on Christian fiction books :)

P.S.  Thanks, Francine Rivers for “redeeming” the Christian fiction industry and introducing me to a genre that I quite actually enjoy!!

3.  Laurel Rain-Snow at Accidental Moments:  I first started reading Laurel’s blog when I joined The Sunday Salon.  While I have never met her, she just has this laid-back personality on her blog.  When I read her posts, I feel that it is she and I sipping coffee as she tells me about her day. She also has the same taste in books that I do!

4.  Debbie Ashley Nance at Readerbuzz:  I have had the pleasure of meeting Debbie at one of my book club meets.  She is as friendly and charming in person as she is on her blog.  I love that she is a librarian and blogs about all kinds of books.  She also weaves into her blog personal life tidbits, which is always great to read!

5.  Karen’s Sister at Coming East:  I just recently started following this blog and enjoy reading these posts!  She is witty, has some hilarious post titles, and writes about the mundane in a funny and interesting way.

Please take some time to read their blogs, too! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Review: The Faith of Ashish by Kay Marshall Strom


Synopsis:

Never Doubt That the Unending Love of a Father—or the Pure Faith of a Child—Can Change Lives

“His name is Ashish. His name is Blessing. The boy is my blessing.”

Virat and Latha named their son Ashish, for he is the light and glory of their world. Yet a simple drink of water changes all their lives forever. For Virat, Latha, and Ashish are Untouchables, members of a caste who must never contaminate the world of the other, higher, castes.

When Ashish mistakenly drinks from the wrong cup, he’s badly beaten. Knowing that his son needs a doctor—which takes money—Virat ventures into the dangerous realm of the high caste. He begs Mammen Samuel Varghese, the wealthy landowner and Christian, for money. He receives the loan—along with a life of slavery for himself and his family.

But Mammen Samuel does not understand the strength of a father’s love, the power of a young British nurse who could not forget a boy named Blessing, or the faith of a child.

Kay Marshall Strom has published 34 books, numerous magazine articles and short stories, and two prize-winning screenplays. Her best-known book is Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, which is packaged with the DVD of the popular film Amazing Grace. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

My Review:

Kay Marshall Strom immediately brings the reader into the lives of  Virat, Latha, and Ashish. When Virat and Latha’s only son is severely beaten, they try everything to receive healing for him.  After much prayer and sacrifice to the Hindu gods, Virat knows only one man can help him.  However, going to Mammen Samuel for assistance means that he is also signing away the rights of his family to a life of slavery.

Ashish is a sweet little boy that is inquisitive and loves to explore.  He is always asking his dad why they cannot drink water from certain wells and why they cannot be seen in other’s shadows.  Because of his childhood innocence, he simply does not realize that those actions  signify that they are condemned to live a lowly life, which is due to generational traditions passed down in the Hindu religion.

Throughout the story, the reader sees how Ashish goes from being a very brave and curious young boy to a scared one because of certain events that happen to him. However, it is with the help and love of Abigail, a nurse at the medical clinic, that not only heals his external wounds but also teaches him that he is worthy of love and acceptance.

Kay captures the lifestyles of Indian families and shows how the rankings truly limit and confines them to a predestined future.  However, she does this without judgement or being disrespectful to the Hindu religion.  This relaxed approach allows the reader to focus on the stories of each family and truly understand their behaviors and attitudes.

I loved the way Abigail is so caring and learns the Indian language to help patients feel comfortable.  The love Abigail gives to Ashish is a reminder of the love Jesus has for all of us and that we don’t have to shove religion down someone’s throat.  Rather, through acts of kindness and service, we can reach others even further as we minister to their needs.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves historical fiction, wants to learn about the Hindu faith and how it impacts a society, and how Christians can be a witness and a light to others.

What I loved:  learning about the different levels in Hinduism, Christian outreach, the style and flow of the story, being introduced to each family and their relationships, a dictionary (at the back of the book) to know the various Hindi terms used in the book

*This book was provided for an honest review by Abingdon Press via Netgalley. No monetary or other form of compensation was given.