Published by Atom on January 16th 2014
Aidan Jones was my brother. But I couldn't really remember his face. I couldn't remember talking to him or playing with him. He was just a gap, an absence, a missing person.
Before she was adopted by a loving family and raised in a leafy Home Counties town, Cass Montgomery was Cass Jones. Her memories of her birth family disappeared with her name. But when her adopted family starts to break down, a way out comes in the form of a message from her lost brother, Aidan. Having Aidan back in her life is both everything she needs and nothing she expected. Who is this boy who calls himself her brother? And why is he so haunted?
I glance at the paper. There's a big picture on the front page. A girl with dark red hair. A girl with eyes that might have been green or they might have been grey. I sit down and stare at Cass, and it is her, it is. My stolen sister.
Aidan's a survivor. He's survived an abusive step-father and an uncaring mother. He's survived crowded foster homes and empty bedsits. His survived to find Cass. If only he can make her understand what it means to be part of his family. . .
When the opportunity to review Salvage by Keren David arose, I was incredibly excited. It sounded like a brilliant new book that seemed to have already received much praise. Whilst the book wasn’t quite what I had expected, it was an excellent read that discusses much deeper issues that your average young adult book.
Salvage is written from the alternating perspectives of half brother and sister Cass and Aidan. They haven’t seen each other in over ten years having been separated at a young age when they were both put into social care. The lives of these two siblings couldn’t have been more different with Cass being adopted by a MP, sent to a leading grammar school and thought to be heading to Oxford University, whilst Aidan has moved from foster family to foster family and eventually ended up on his own, at the age of 16, having left school with little to no qualifications and now works in a shop. When Cass’ Dad is revealed to be having an affair, her family life is spread all over the newspapers and catches the attention of Aidan who can’t believe his luck. Finally having found his little sister he searches for her on Facebook and gets in touch.
Although Salvage may seem like the story of two long lost siblings finding each other, it is actually so much more than that. There are so many different things going on that are all somehow interlinked including family, young love, friendship, parenting and much more. All these different plot strands are seamlessly woven together to create a complex story that will hold your interest throughout. This isn’t a particularly action-filled story so don’t expect lots of plot twists or anything like that but it’s still a really, really good story. Serious issues that affect many youths today are explored and I can’t say whether they’re factually accurate, but this story sure does make you grateful for the family life you have.
A lot of teenage girls will probably be able to relate to the character of Cass who is 16 years old, under a lot of pressure from her parents to seem outwardly ‘perfect’, achieve high grades and go to a good university whilst dealing with boy drama and family drama. I wouldn’t say she’s particularly likeable, but she’s got a lot of sass that you can’t help but admire. Aidan is a character that you grow to really sympathise with and he has such a big heart. None of these characters are perfect; their lives are pretty messed up and the author isn’t afraid to show this. Salvage is definitely a more ‘real’ story than a lot of other teenage fiction that is currently on shelves and not just because it doesn’t feature vampires or werewolves – the characters genuinely seem like real people.
I have to admit I did find the ending a little disappointing. As I was reading the last few pages I could see that there wasn’t much story left to go but I felt like there was so much left to say. The ending was bad, per say, I just felt slightly let down in that there wasn’t a conclusive ending with one character’s story left very open-ended. For some, this could be a good thing as there is plenty of room for imagination and future development, but personally, I like it when stand alone stories have complete finales that leave me satisfied and not feeling like there was something missing. There were a few lose ends which weren’t exactly ‘important’ but it still bothered me that there were left unfinished.
All in all, Salvage was a refreshing young adult read that isn’t a story you’ve read a hundred times before. It is refreshing and deep, the perfect thing to pick up if you’re starting to tire of your standard teenage drama.
Thanks every so much to Team Atom for sending me a copy to read and review!