My Brief Thoughts on Sigrid Nunez, Salvation City

Title:Salvation City
Author: Sigrid Nunez
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Date: 2010
Genre: Literary Fiction, Dystopian

280 pages.
Where I got it: From the publisher for Crazy Book Tours.
Challenges: None

Cole Vining is a fourteen year old boy who has survived a flu pandemic.  Both of his parents have died and he has been adopted by Pastor Wyatt, an evangelical preacher living in  Salvation City, a small, rural town where things don't seem to have changed much even with the "end of the world" and all.  Cole is a normal fourteen year old, thinking about girls and school and the future, and trying to forge new relationships in his new life, one that he never expected.

Pastor Wyatt (or PW as everyone calls him) and his wife Tracy are seemingly polar opposites from Cole's parents- liberal, atheist, intellectuals from Chicago.  Cole is an interesting character in the way that he balances his old life with the new one that has been thrust upon him.  He remains remarkably consistent through the change, even when other forces in his life seem to be pitted against one another, he remains a neutral center, the fulcrum on which the book balances.  Cole seems to represent a picture of humanity that I found pretty inspiring: far from perfect, hopeful and able to see past the superficial differences to find the good in others, struggling to be "good," whatever that might mean.  His new parents are, after all, not that different from his old parents; they are imperfect certainly, all of them.

This book is as much a coming-of-age tale as it is a dystopian one (although there is some fun stuff about the flu pandemic in the beginning if that is your cup of tea).  I enjoyed reading it and the end was slightly unsettling and reminiscent of the ending of another young American boy's story- Huck Finn.  I recommend the book for fans of dystopia that want something a little different, or any reader that enjoys exploring our possible future.


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