Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Salvage by Keren David (Young Adult, 7/10E)

3rd July 2014, Atom Books, 320 pages, Paperback, Review Copy

Themes: Alcohol, love, violence, broken families

Summary from Atom Books

Aidan Jones was my brother. But I couldn't really remember his face. I couldn't remember talking to him or playing with him. He was just a gap, an absence, a missing person.
Before she was adopted by a loving family and raised in a leafy Home Counties town, Cass Montgomery was Cass Jones. Her memories of her birth family disappeared with her name. But when her adopted family starts to break down, a way out comes in the form of a message from her lost brother, Aidan. Having Aidan back in her life is both everything she needs and nothing she expected. Who is this boy who calls himself her brother? And why is he so haunted?
I glance at the paper. There's a big picture on the front page. A girl with dark red hair. A girl with eyes that might have been green or they might have been grey. I sit down and stare at Cass, and it is her, it is. My stolen sister.
Aidan's a survivor. He's survived an abusive stepfather and an uncaring mother. He's survived crowded foster homes and empty bedsits.He's survived to find Cass. If only he can make her understand what it means to be part of his family. . .

The Mole's thoughts

Keren David is a rare author... whatever book of hers I pick up I find I can't put it down again. I found myself disliking all the characters in this book at some point - even Cass. Cass annoyed me because she was too compliant - not enough her own person. She has had all the breaks... she was put up for adoption and was quickly adopted into a loving, well off family that gave her all of life's advantages and she pays this good fortune back by being what her parents want her to be. Aidan, meanwhile, has been rejected, fought over, rejected again and had none of life's breaks ending up in care but now has a girl friend... one he is convinced he doesn't deserve and is expecting to be alone again any day. 

Despite these characters - and pretty well every secondary character also failed me in some way too - I was still pulled in because if you can care enough to dislike characters then they must be "real" and properly sculpted. The story takes some turns that I hadn't expected and each character (well nearly all of them) managed to twist themselves into my good books before the end comes about. Is it the end I expected? Is it the end I wanted? What I would say is it was an end worth getting to and one that many parents, as well as teenagers would do well to read and reflect on.

The only thing that I found didn't quite gel with me was Aidan's alcohol consumption - it seemed it was more responsible for his behaviour than his 'on page' consumption seemed to reflect.

Find out more on Keren's website.

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