Book Review: Souls in Peril by Sherry Gammon

Souls in Peril
Author: Sherry Gammon
Reading Level: YA
Genre: Contemporary/Sociology
Released: August 17th 2012
Review Source: Author:
Available: Amazon


Summary: (from goodreads) Max Sanchez is the “it” kid at Port Fare High. He’s the star of the baseball team, he’s dating head cheerleader Emma McKay, and he has a throng of wonderful, supportive friends. JD Miller is the school’s punching bag, verbally and emotionally. He has a loving mother, but her choice in boyfriends is questionable, leaving him a target at home as well as school.
A tragic car accident ends it all for Max when his soul is prematurely removed from his body. The powers that be have asked him to go back to earth temporarily to help classmate JD. Max, always up for a challenge, takes it as a chance to see his beloved Emma again and quickly jumps at what he views as the easy task of helping JD. Max knows with a little cardio he can easily whip the guy into shape, ending all his troubles.
While staying mentally connected to JD, Max’s soul steps into JD’s body. However, Max’s reality is shattered as he enters a world void of love and hope: JD’s world--life as the bullied kid.
Will he survive? Will JD? Did Emma's love for Max die also? Will Max be able to help these Souls in Peril, or is it all as hopeless as JD believes?


As I try to compose all my emotions to write this review I feel an overwhelming responsibility to do justice to this book through my review. I laughed, I cried, I felt such bewildering sadness and in the end I laughed again. Sherry Gammon takes us on an astonishing journey through the eyes of Max Sanchez. Handsome and athletic with a wonderful and supportive family, Max lives a charmed life. Even as a seventeen year old Max knows that his girlfriend Emma will be the woman he grows old with. Em's beauty and brains are only out shone by her inner compassion and kindness. Max already recognizes that he can learn from her sweetness and tolerance.

We are introduced to Max and Emma at school as they interact with an abundance of friends during lunch. Emma, a cheerleader is planning a big surprise for the championship game. The same baseball game that Max, the schools honored pitcher, will eagerly help his team to win. This is also when we are introduced to Lumpy Larry and Icky Izzy. These two kids aren't part of the "in" crowd. They don't have an abundance of friends. The vicious bullying and abuse that these kids take from their school mates as well as the very people that are presumed to cherish and take care of them has driven them to a secret suicide pact. Jayden and Isabelle are Souls in Peril.

Isabelle (Icky Izzy) is battling Crohns disease. Her body rejects almost every form of nourishment she attempts, giving her the look of an anorexic. Family conflicts have caused her mother to abandon her, leaving her in the custody of her molesting father. Jayden (Lumpy Larry) is overweight, uncoordinated and his lack of hygiene makes him a prime target for harassment. At home his mothers abominable choice of boyfriends along with her incapability to see their abuse, leaves Jayden unprotected. Only together do Isabelle and Jayden feel a sense of balance. And though misguided, they feel that with their suicide pact they can find peace.

After a delightful dinner one night at Max's house, Emma heads home as Max and his mom and dad head out for frozen yogurt. On the way back home there is a terrible accident and Max and his family are killed. Max wakes up in a white room and has to face the fact that he was accidentally taken at the same time that his parents were "scheduled" to leave Earth. His parents have moved on into the after-life but there are other plans for Max. He is asked to help Jayden (JD). It seems that JD, also involved in the same accident is in a coma. The powers above will temporarily let Max use JD's body if he will help JD see how much he has to live for thereby helping JD to prevail. Max quickly realizes that it will give him a chance to see and spend time with Emma, even if they can only be friends. The catch is that Max will be able to "feel" JD, all his fears and anxiety will still be there. And in the end when Max has to leave JD's body all the choices and memories will be JD's alone.

Max is up for the challenge but adversity comes quickly as the kids and even some adults at school blame JD for Max's death. The cruelty that he has to tolerate in unimaginable. Amazingly the abuse increases until a report is released exonerating JD in the Sanchez's deaths. With Max's sense of self worth leading the way for JD, he keeps trying to make it through each day. Teaching JD how to make his body strong through exercise and healthy eating Max tries to stay in control of JD's negative thoughts. Max also tries to reach out to Isabelle who is so lost that she truly only sees their pact as her way to cope with all the awful things in her life. Everyday is such a relentless struggle for these kids. Ultimately, they must find the strength to connect with adults willing to help them find the right path.

Emma reaches out, even in her pain, to befriend JD and Isabelle. Because so many mannerisms remind her of Max, her friendship with JD soon becomes a lifeline for Emma. But as much as Max hates to admit it, the fact is, that letting Emma focus on her lost love is not helping her. Max knows now that he also must help Emma move on with her life, living life for both of them.

The struggles and insight of the children in this book will haunt me. I can't remember the last time a book had such a profound affect on me. As a mother of four boys, my heart broke as I imagined the horror of the life that JD and Isabelle struggled through every day. And I cried big crocodile tears as Max and Emma were forced to say their good-byes. And finally, in the end, I was grateful that after all the sadness and tears Sherry Gammon still had the ability to make me laugh out loud. What a phenomenal ending.


2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much!!! What a beautiful review! I am so grateful. I'm glad you liked Souls in Peril. I'll post a link to it on my blog and FB! THANK YOU!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is what a review is all about! I felt your passion for it, the words really spoke to me and I now have to go add this to my wishlist. This sounds like such an amazing book but your review is what really did it for me.

    ReplyDelete

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