I Will Save You by Matt De La Pena
Although a little different from De La Pena’s previous books (Ball Don’t Lie and Mexican White Boy), readers will be engaged in this book from the very beginning. The book opens with three teens at the top of a 40 foot cliff overlooking Cardiff Beach on the Pacific Ocean. Then suddenly, one boy pushes the other off the steep cliff onto the beach below, lighted only by the reflection of the moon. When Kidd wakes up, he finds himself in what feels like solitary confinement, and tries to piece together what happened that night at the beach.
Our main character, Kidd has run away from the Horizons mental facility, where he has lived and been counseled since he mother killed herself after shooting her abusive husband. He’s now living in a tent at a beach campground, helping Mr. Red, a former surf champion, with general care-taking chores around the campground. Red has sort of adopted him, giving him fatherly advice while taking him under his wing. At the same time, Kidd has noticed a beautiful girl who’s been at the campground all summer, Olivia. The blue-eyed blond is the daughter of a rich family, and Kidd is shocked when she actually wants to spend time with him. Meanwhile, Kidd’s embittered friend from Horizon has somehow found him, and Devon never missed a chance to tell him how much better the kids from Cardiff think they are then them, and how Olivia will dump him before the summer’s over. It’s only when Devon starts making threatening remarks and gestures about Olivia that Kidd gets really scared.
I loved this remarkable story. Part of it was the way it was told–some in regular narration, some in flashbacks and some in the form of a journal Kidd writes so he can remember things. I really felt like I knew this character by the end of the book. I would recommend this to fans of realistic teen fiction and Matt De La Pena lovers.