My sixth review for the Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge is I WILL SAVE YOU by Matt de la Peña.
The goal of this challenge is “to finally read 12 books from your ‘to be read’ pile within twelve months”. To qualify for the challenge, books must be read and reviewed before the year is over, and all selections must have publishing dates from the year 2013 or older. (Here are the books I’ll be reading this year.)
I was introduced to Matt’s work a few years ago while attending the SCBWI LA summer conference. His keynote speech and then his break out session on exercising patience made me an instant fan. (Read the post about my introduction here.) I brought home a few signed books and read the first one, MEXICAN WHITEBOY, right away – which I loved. This book slipped slowly to the middle of my TBR pile as I kept accruing more books to read. I’m so glad I finally had the chance to read it.
On to the review!
I WILL SAVE YOU by Matt de la Peña
Published by: Random House Children’s Books
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Kidd is running from his past and his future. No mom, no dad, and there’s nothing for him at the group home but therapy. He doesn’t belong at the beach where he works either, unless he finds a reason to stay.
Olivia is blond hair, blue eyes, rich dad. The prettiest girl in Cardiff. She’s hiding something from Kidd—but could they ever be together anyway?
Devon is mean, mysterious, and driven by a death wish. A best friend and worst enemy. He followed Kidd all the way to the beach and he’s not leaving until he teaches him a few lessons about life. And Olivia. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Many of us probably had a toxic friend like Devon growing up; that one bad influence that brought out the worst in us or dampened our spirits and made us feel worthless. Yet we couldn’t seem to stay away from them or tell them “no” when they came around. And they always, ALWAYS dragged us into something we knew deep down would end badly.
Or maybe that was just me.
I could really relate to the characters in this book and the struggles they went through. One of Kidd’s big struggles is keeping the people he cares about safe. Sometimes that means from himself.
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the book:
And I saw it…
Devon sitting with Olivia at the top of the stairs, talking close like flirting people talk.
I choked on breath.
I almost squatted down on the not-yet-silver sand ’cause my knees went wobbly and I couldn’t tell which way was up, like when a wave takes you underneath and spins you around the ocean’s washing machine.
Olivia and Devon.
The beach sky was black except for a moon oval that lit up their position on the cliff like a stage spotlight in some romantic play, and I set right off for them, my heart knocking in my chest and stomach and even my neck. My philosophy of life book shaking in my hand. I walked at first like everything was normal ’cause I knew if Mr. Red thought something was happening he’d call me back and take off his old sombrero and fire off question after question (“What’s going on, big guy? You all right? Somebody stressing you out?”).
When I made it around the bend I jogged, then ran up the stairs, two at a time, thinking I had to get to her before something happened and what if something happened.
I saw them through the bushes and stopped cold…
Devon slowly tracing the mark on Olivia’s cheek, the one she showed me, and her just letting him.
“You can’t do it,” I said under my breath.
Olivia didn’t turn to look at me.
But Devon did.
Devon stared and even got a tiny grin on his face and I told him: “Get away from her!” But he didn’t get away from her. Instead he ran his fingers through her long blond hair and leaned in to whisper something in her diamond-earringed ear and then kissed her a real kind of kiss, like two people who were committed together as a couple.
She kissed back.
Intense and powerful, right? Makes you want to read more.
Just as he said in his talk, Matt holds the reader in the palm of his hand and makes them suffer.
I’ve heard Matt refer to this as his “sad” book and make no mistake, the ending will leave you wrecked. Still, it is well worth reading, well worth being wrecked by this fantastically talented author.
Learn more about Matt de la Peña here.
Follow Matt on Twitter here.
Follow Matt on Facebook here.