Friday, January 3, 2014

Book Review: The Vow by Jessica Martinez

SUMMARY: No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?


This book captivated me, and had me torn several times over what I wanted to happen. And if that's your definition of tension, the this book is maybe as high as tension can come. I wanted both Mo and Annie to be okay, to come out on top but, really, in such an overall impossible situation, how? I think the way Martinez handled Mo's immigrant status, and the implications of everything, had a really strong, yet sensitive to the situation, note to it. He wasn't undocumented, undeclared, etc, he did have a work visa through his father, and this book looks at the conflicts and troubles that arise when a family like this is suddenly faced with leaving the United States. 

From the start, it was rather obvious there were so many ways things could go wrong for Mo and Annie. Two teenagers, suddenly trying to be married? And convince the authorities they aren't just in this to keep Mo in the country? I really admired how there were some things the pair just couldn't foresee, without making the characters seem conveniently clueless. Rather, it's a rash decision, emotionally driven, with the pitfalls too impossible to bring in at the time. 

I think there is something amazing, as a teenager or adult, in loving a person, even just as a best friend, enough to change your life. And the flip of that, for Mo, of loving this person, and this way of life, so much to pick them, in essence, over your family. Neither are easy situations or choices to make, and the set up here has such high stakes on both sides, for both ways to go. These various elements were all woven in so beautifully, without ever feeling overdramatic or poorly planned on the author's part.

I love Annie and Mo, and more so, I think their individual and joint character arcs are so stunningly well done. This is one of those books where I rooted for Annie when I was in her head, even if it made me dislike Mo a tiny bit, yet instantly swapped that as soon as I was in his head. That little bias that comes with being thrust unfiltered in someone's mindset bleeds throughout this book, and yet I never completely disliked one or the other. 

The ending, too, makes me love this book even more. I won't say it was the inevitable conclusion, because I feel like Martinez built the book in such a way that if any other decisions were made along the way, it wouldn't have ended up like this. But was it inevitable for everything that led to it? Yes. Was it still heartbreaking and impacting? Absolutely. Even months after having read it, I still remember so much about this book. 

Source: Edelweiss
Pagecount: 432
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 15, 2013

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