Estelle: The Vow by Jessica Martinez

The Vow by Jessica MartinezThe Vow by Jessica Martinez ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 432
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: immigration, best friends, family
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: When Mo’s father loses his job, he decides the best decision is to move the family back to Jordan. But over-achieving Mo is not ready to leave his school during his senior year, his home, or his friends – especially his best friend Annie. When Annie decides the two should secretly get married to keep Mo in the country, they fail to consider how this decision affects their friendship, their families, and their futures.

How far would you go to help your nearest and dearest friend?

Honestly, when Annie and Mo decide that getting married is the best way to keep him in the United States, I thought they were a little loony. Impulsive. Like maybe there were a few other avenues they two could have taken? Especially with Annie on the cusp of a new relationship with Reed at work, the fact that Mo and Annie’s parents do not like the other, and let’s not forget the consequences of being found out. They could be fined and go to jail; Mo could never return to the United States again.

But when Mo’s mom agrees to consent to the marriage, the two make the decision super quickly. Mr. and Mrs., at seventeen and eighteen.

How, oh how will they make this work?

The Vow may be 400+ pages but Martinez makes the time fly by. Chapters alternate between Mo and Annie’s perspectives, the end of each chapter linking to the next chapter’s beginning. (Such a lovely stylistic touch, even when it flourishes in unexpected ways.) There is such an urgency behind the story as it progresses; as the situation that Annie and Mo throw themselves into becomes harder and harder to handle because in order for them to make their marriage look believable, they have to lie to pretty much everyone in their lives and act like a married couple.

This is the thing. Mo and Annie are truly best friends. One of them doesn’t have secret feelings for the other. They both came into each other’s lives when they needed someone the most. With Annie’s sister’s death and Mo being a total outcast in a new country, they just latch on together and their dependence and loyalty to each other becomes the strongest thing in each other’s lives. This friendship is so rare in young adult (and real life, when you think about it) and I loved how Martinez was able to pinpoint their differences but also make us understand why these two needed each other so badly.

But is all the sacrifice worth it? Is it immaturity or idealism that makes Mo and Annie believe that this “secret” can remain a secret, and also not create a domino effect in other aspects of their lives?

I’ve read Virtuosity by Martinez and I really enjoyed it, but The Vow completely blew me away. The conflicts, the tough choices, memorable supporting characters (including the hard-to-forget, Reed), and this unbelievable friendship — there is absolutely so much at stake in this story and I had no idea how it would all end. Definitely a book that deserves a spot on my top shelf.

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12 thoughts on “Estelle: The Vow by Jessica Martinez

  1. Daphne says:

    this sounds fantastic! this is what i love about blogging, i stumble upon a book that i may never have even known about and now i NEED to read this book. great review.

  2. Judith says:

    Oooh, I am intrigued. The concept sounds kind of insane, but I’m glad it was worked out so well. I love stories about friendship, sometimes even more than romantic ones, so the fact that this friendship is so great makes me even more eager to pick this book up myself. I hadn’t heard of this one, but I’m glad you liked it – and I think I will too.

  3. Summer says:

    I read this one a week or so ago and really enjoyed it, too. Their friendship really was so deep and necessary in their lives that I almost was on board with the craziness of marrying so youg, but at the same time I didn’t want anything messing with Annie and Reed. There was most definitely a lump in my throat at the end.

  4. alice-jane says:

    It’s really nice that that book worked out so nicely! The premise of it is different and unusual but it’s nice that it focuses on friendship, rather than romance. It’ll definitely be checking this book out of the library soon!

  5. Bookworm1858 says:

    I’m glad you mentioned how each chapter leads into the next; when I realized that was happening, I was so enchanted. It’s just a nice touch to see. I really shook my head at their naivety though because it seems like such a crazy idea!

  6. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages says:

    Great review! I really liked this one and I absolutely love Jessica Martinez’s writing. But (always a but) I struggled with how alive and dynamic Annie’s chapters felt compared with how stagnant Mo’s chapters were. And I get why they were like that, but I just kept wishing I could hear more about Annie.

  7. Alexa Y. says:

    My sister and I just saw this book in the bookstore the other day and we both wanted to read it. It makes me SO happy to see that you enjoyed it so much! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and indulge in it, and hopefully enjoy it as much as you did.

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