Monday, March 10, 2014

The Vow by Jessica Martinez

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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 424
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

Mo and Annie are best friends; actually, they are more than that, but they don't know how to explain to everyone else that they aren't interested in each other romantically other than to just keep denying it. So when they get married to keep Mo from being deported, it doesn't take too much to convince everyone that they've really been in love the whole. But it turns out to be more complicated than just going to the courthouse, and both of them start to wonder is giving everything up was really such a good idea.

The Vow is told from both Mo and Annie's point of view, with alternating chapters. Usually I don't like this--I forget whose chapter it is and get confused about what is going on--but I really liked the way that Martinez worked with it. The chapter transitions are great and I found myself looking forward to the last line/first line connection. Each chapter moved the story along chronologically, instead of staying the in the same time for both characters, which made the book move along at a good pace.

I really like Mo and Annie's friendship. A lot of friendships in novels are based almost solely on the length of time they have been friends, but Mo and Annie's friendship started with Annie saving Mo (and, in a way, with Mo saving Annie), so it was based on something so much more than just being in the same grade. There is a complexity, a deepness, to their friendship which makes the motivations of their marriage much more believable. Something else that adds to the motivation believability is the character's backgrounds. I felt that there were very few flat characters, and Mo and Annie are almost 4D in their history. This has influenced nearly everything they've done, and influences their decisions going into their marriage. Martinez has created characters that have lives just like the rest of us, and that makes us want everything to work out in the end.

My only criticism is the ending. It seemed to happen rather quickly . . . not that it was rushed, but I was in the last ten or so pages and wondering how everything could possibly wrap up in that amount of time. It did, and it was a fine ending, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting, and I wanted Mo and Annie to have a happier ending. I wanted them to be able to make things work out better than they did. In a way it was fitting because it ending with a "new beginning," but I was a little unsatisfied that a book I enjoyed so much ended in a way that I didn't like. I almost felt as if the book suddenly changed into a different book than I had believed through the rest of it.

I gave this a 16+ grouping, but I think that older middle school kids could like it and identify with the characters. There is the inclusion of a college student who offers advice to Mo and Annie which I thought a good inclusion as their parents aren't willing to help. I think it's important for teens to realize that there are other people that can and will help them if they don't have anyone else.

*I receive no compensation from Amazon.

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