Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Enchanting Review: Saving Maddie

YA Contemporary
Delacorte Press
ISBN# 978-0-385-73804-0
231 pages
Hardback Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Everyone, including Joshua Wynn’s pastor father, expects him to be the perfect teen. So far he doesn’t disappoint as he chooses abstinence and religious retreats over partying and getting into trouble. Then one day an old friend shows up and turns his world upside down.

Maddie Smith comes to one sermon dressed in a very revealing dress which causes just about everyone to gossip. Everyone except Joshua. He still remembers the girl he’d meet at the blackberry brushes. But that girl has changed. No longer does Maddie want anything to do with organized religion. And rumor has it she has a bad reputation. Everyone, including Joshua’s father, discourages him from seeing Maddie. But Joshua can’t. He feels he can save Maddie. But in the process of doing this, will he lose his own way?

I really liked this story. Joshua’s struggles to be the ‘perfect’ son are very true. So are his challenges to not let his father down. Maddie coming back to town causes turmoil. Joshua starts to question his own faith and beliefs. I liked how the author shows Joshua struggling to still be the obedient son while fighting his growing attraction to Maddie.

The relationship between Joshua and Maddie is intense at times. Maddie’s shield does come down just enough for us to see that she’s not the stereotypical ‘slutty’ girl. Though I liked the interaction between Joshua and his parents, I would have liked the author to dig a little deeper. I felt that Joshua’s mother might have had more of a reason why she resented Maddie showing back up.

SAVING MADDIE digs down deep to break apart the stereotypes of what it means to be worth saving. It also shows how one teen does just that while in the meantime finding himself.

Varian Johnson is the author of MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and their two cocker spaniels. He’s a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program for Writing for Children and Young Adults. Find out more at www.varianjohnson.com

Kim Baccellia
May 2010

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