Tuesday, May 6, 2014


You can't look inside, I got the image from Amazon
I have a teenage nephew, Theo, who reads a book a day. That's a lot of books so I tend to trust his judgement when it comes to what's worth reading. On my recent visit to London I acquired a young adult novel - Salvage by Keren David (author of the When I was Joe trilogy and Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery). I offered Theo first reading rights and he accepted.

About 20 hours later he returned it, read. "Was it good?" I asked. "Very good," was the reply. As I too enjoyed reading salvage, I thought I'd add a few words of my own.

I'm not sure if I've just lied to you when I said I enjoyed reading Salvage. I read it with my heart in my throat. I read it with disdain for certain characters who represent everything I despise. I read it with sadness at how the system, or misguided 'experts' within it, can let someone down so badly. I could hardly bear to read parts of it to be honest. When life takes two innocent siblings and gives one of them everything whilst screwing the other one over completely, it's just not fair.

And yet life can be like this. David brilliantly takes the reader through a series of totally plausible events leading to one cock-up system failure after another. It would be an interesting case study if it weren't so tragic. A group of adults all trying to do their best for the child, whilst protecting their own families, and every one of them getting it wrong. With every decision a human being is systematically destroyed.

Luckily there are angels and heroes in Salvage too, one of them not revealing himself until the final few pages. I wanted to jump into the book, hug him and apologise for getting him so wrong.

And then there is the heroine. A bright teenage girl who seems to have it all sussed out. She sees what's what and no one is going to hoodwink her into relaxing her principles. However, I was completely taken in by her confidence and poise. In the end she learns a valuable lesson about grown ups and I couldn't believe I'd not thought it myself.

If like me, you are fascinated by families and how the characters in them are formed, you'll love Salvage. It's a challenging book. It makes you think about where you stand on issues of class and race. David encourages you to make judgments about people and then pulls the rug out from beneath you. She shows you how the mind of the child is not always working in tandem with the wisdom of the adults assigned to care for him. I wouldn't be surprised if Salvage finds it's way onto school reading lists for the issues it raises that every teenager should consider and discuss.

Disclosure: Keren David is an old friend of mine and my copy of Salvage is signed with love. On the other hand, Theo doesn't know her from Adam. Theo and I were both impressed.


  1. Sounds good. Theo sounds like a boy after my own heart. I still read a lot of so-called 'young adult' fiction - sometimes I feel it deals with issues in a more honest and thoughtful way than many 'adult' books. Will recommend this to my own teen. And might snaffle it for my own reading too. :)

  2. I also love young adult fiction. Lots to discuss in this one if you both read it - if you discuss stuff. Unfortunately, whilst Theo and I may be on the same page, we are no longer on the same continent.