Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saving Maddie

Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson
Delacorte Press, 2010
231 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Read for YA Overlooked Book Battle.

I remember seeing this book last year and being interested that the character had a cross on her neck; I really enjoy reading about modern struggles with the Christian faith, which is largely what this book about.

Maddie is a character who has been largely written off as irredeemable; by her father, by her congregation, by almost everyone except for her aunt and her best friend Joshua.

Now Joshua is the narrator who has been fascinated by the boldness of Maddie for most of his life.  She examines her life, questioning and challenging sources of authority unlike Joshua.  He's a preacher's son whose girlfriend dumped him when he wouldn't sleep with her, who doesn't really have any friends because they all feel like they have to be perfect around him, and who feels severely constrained by the expectations of his parents and their congregation.  But the reappearance of Maddie pushes him outside of his little bubble to a big new world.

I really enjoyed the debates between Joshua and Maddie but also between characters over what the appropriate behavior is and over how Christians ought to behave.  I don't agree with every conclusion (premarital albeit protected sex among teenagers is unduly championed, in my opinion) but the fact that they're discussed is promising.  Joshua starts to question his beliefs and tries to prove to Maddie that she is worth saving.

The conclusion of the book is open-ended with Maddie leaving to find answers but Joshua unsure if she's safe/content/happy. I felt it was abrupt and I didn't really like it but then I generally prefer more closure in my books.

Warning: Language, drugs, and sexual content for those who may be wary.  I think they are all important for the story though.

Overall: Interesting questions explored in this book with a good plot and characters.

Cover: Very accurate! Maddie's purple lipstick is especially important.


  1. Great review! I find books discussing faith and Christians intriguing, especially when a character is trying to find some meaning.


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