Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review - Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez

A well-written book should not only entertain the reader, but give them something to think about as well.

Sigrid Nunez's powerful novel, "Salvation City," does just that.

About The Book:

After losing both parents to a flu pandemic that seriously threatens his own life as well, thirteen-year-old Cole Vining is sent to live with an evangelical pastor and his wife in Salvation City, a small town in southern Indiana. There, Cole feels sheltered and loved but never as if he truly belongs. Everything about his new home is vastly different from the secular world in which he was raised.

As he tries to adjust, he struggles also with memories of the past, a struggle made more difficult by the fact that he had lost his parents at a time when family relations were at their most fraught and unhappy. How is he to remember them now? Are they still his parents if they are no longer there? Must he accept what those around him believe, that because his parents did not know Jesus they are condemned to hell? During this time, Cole finds solace in drawing comics, for which he has a remarkable gift, and in fantasies about being a superhero.

Salvation City is a story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness. It is about spiritual and moral growth, and the consolation of art. It is about belief—belief in God and belief in self. As others around him grow increasingly fixed on the hope of salvation and a new life to come through an imminent rapture, Cole imagines a different future, one in which his own dreams of happiness and heroism begin to seem within reach.

I will have to admit, I have mixed emotions about this book.  I had heard wonderful things about it, and was excited to read it.  I was pulled into Nunez's compelling story, and even a bit frightened about how this situation could actually happen one day in the real world. But as the tension built and the conclusion was on the way, I felt the story fell rather flat.  There was no real conclusion to what Cole was going to do with the rest of his life.  I would love to read a sequel about this mesmerizing character as he moves into adulthood, just to see what kind of man he becomes in the future that will be so different for him.

This is certainly a novel that makes you think, and for that alone, I am glad that I took the time to read it.

About The Author:

Sigrid Nunez has published six novels: A Feather on the Breath of God, Naked Sleeper, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury, For Rouenna, The Last of Her Kind, and Salvation City. Her most recent book is Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including three Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian-American literature. Among the many journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Believer, The Threepenny Review, Tin House, and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Nunez has taught at Amherst College, Smith College, Columbia University and the New School, and has been a visiting writer at Washington University, Baruch College, and the University of California, Irvine. She has also been on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and of several other writers' conferences across the country. For the fall semester, 2011, she joins the creative writing program at Boston University to teach a graduate workshop in fiction. In February, 2012, she will be Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College.
Sigrid Nunez lives in New York City.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated for my opinion. 

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