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Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: I Will Save You by Matt De La Peña

I Will Save You by Matt De La Peña
Buy I Will Save You by Matt De La Peña

I Will Save You
by Matt De La Peña

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73827-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73827-9
Publication Date: October, 2010
List Price: $16.99

Review: A thought-provoking story of an adolescent's journey of self-actualization is told in Matt de la Peña's I Will Save You. Kidd is broken and alone - trying to escape from his past and keep from the dangers the future might hold. His best friend and worst enemy is Devon. Devon embodies everything that Kidd is not. He's mean, dangerous, and aggressive. Whenever Devon's around, Kidd's life is turned upside down. The one semblance of normalcy is Olivia - the beautiful girl Kidd meets at the beach, a girl with her own secrets to hide.

Kidd is living and working on the beach with Mr. Red - a boyfriend of a former therapist Kidd had at the home. Unbeknownst to Mr. Red, Kidd was not released from the group home, but instead he's escaped. Kidd is a hard-worker, and he enjoys working beside Mr. Red cleaning the beach area and fixing things, and Mr. Red enjoys it too because Kidd fills a void in his life. Everything seems to be going just fine for Kidd - in fact it is going better than fine when he meets Olivia. But, Kidd is evidently not meant to be happy because just as soon as his life starts to go right, Devon shows up. Devon is the kind of boy that Kidd's therapists warned him to avoid. Devon is destined to destroy whatever makes Kidd happy, and right now that is Olivia. Kidd is determined to not lose the life he's built at the beach, so he must stop Devon. But, in doing so, he might just destroy everything.

I Will Save You is an inspiring story of a boy who has faced the worst life has to offer, but who is determined to not let it keep him down. Matt de la Peña tells Kidd's story through journal entries, lists, and traditional storytelling making for an engaging read. Although it can become difficult to follow the story at times since the journal entries and storytelling tend to jump through time, placing events out of order. However, readers will not be disappointed. Kidd is an exercise in character study. His complexity is what draws readers into the story. On the outside he's like any other boy, but on the inside he is struggling with a sense of hopelessness, depression, and mental illness. Each supporting character is equally complex. Even the "perfect" Olivia is far from perfect and harboring a secret. Through Kidd's interaction with Mr. Red, Olivia, and even Devon, readers can see that in spite of the engulfing depression Kidd faces day to day, something else hovers within reach - something called hope. I Will Save You is not only a worthy read for young adults, it would also be an excellent text for any psychology student. It is not a story readers will easily forget.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of I Will Save You for this review.

Have you read I Will Save You? How would you rate it?

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