The Vow by Jessica Martinez

06 May

The Vow

the vowFor Annie Bernier, her best friend Mo is the only thing that keeps her sane. A few years ago, her older sister disappeared and was later found dead, and Annie’s parents are super over-protective of her. They also don’t have a real family as each person shuts themselves behind a door and doesn’t interact. This summer, Annie lands a job at Mr. Twister, the frozen custard shop where her sister used to work, in hopes that she will somehow connect with her sister’s memory. Annie’s other half, Mo, is the only one who knows the real Annie, but though Mo is all Annie has, it is Annie who keeps Mo grounded. For a Jordanian boy who moved to America when he was ten, in Kentucky, Mo is still regarded as a potential terrorist, fanatic Muslim, and all-around undesirable for Annie. He didn’t have any friends until Annie, the day a long time ago when he had an accident that would’ve made him a social pariah forever but Annie, still outcast because of her sister, helped him. They’d been inseparable ever since until now. Mo’s father is let go from his job, and when you’re an immigrant and your work visa expires, the only answer, other than finding another American job, is deportation. For Mo, it’s the end of his work, the end of basketball camp, hopes of Harvard, and the beginning of being yet another outcast in Jordan. To save herself and her friend, Annie proposes to Mo and they secretly get married. For Annie and Mo, it’s not a big deal, especially since their relationship has always been very platonic. Annie isn’t Mo’s type, and Mo has always been like Annie’s brother. To top it off, Annie has been seeing a boy at work, and she may really be falling for him. It’s the stickiest of situations, and as Mo and Annie’s relationship changes, we see the true power of friendship and how it can both set you free and make you stronger than who you were before.

The emotions in this book are so powerful! It was funny, and sweet, and sad, and horrifying all at the same time. It carries that “train-wreck ready to happen” vibe that sucks you in and gobbles you up. I was laughing from nervousness at the situation (you know, when it’s like the worst time to laugh but you can’t help it because everything’s so tense). I’ve added an excerpt below of a part towards the latter end of the book that was both my favorite and very horrific, but seriously some great writing. Although it doesn’t seem like a book that you could really love, somehow, I do.

Excerpt – Chapter 22.

“Should we sit down?” I ask.

Annie shoots death beams from her pupils directly at my head. Right. Not allowed to talk. But I’m not sure I can survive this kind of nervousness in silence.

“No,” Mr. Bernier says. His voice is terse, and unlike his wife, his eyes, his face, his whole body is aimed at me. “I’ll sit if I need to sit.”

I stare at the floor, shut my mouth, and vow never to disobey Annie again.

“Mo and I have some news, and we hope you’ll be happy for us even if it seems a little hard to understand at first,” Annie starts. It sounds vaguely rehearsed by I’m pretty sure my jittery rambling would not be any better, so I continue on with my job of keeping my eyes on the floor and my mouth shut. “We’ve sort of been together as more than just friends for a little while now, but we’ve kept it a secret. We didn’t think you would approve.”

I hazard a glance at Mr. Bernier, but I’m so disturbed by the symmetrical blue veins running up either side of his forehead and over the shiny skin-wrapped cranium, that I have to look back down.

“Anyway, so a couple of weeks ago we decided we wanted to get married.”

A sharp intake of air sucks in the sound all around us as Mrs. Bernier’s hand flies to her mouth. It’s the nuclear bomb, the mushroom-cloud moment, when everyone is watching in horror, but the horror hasn’t actually set in yet.

Like she doesn’t notice, Annie soldiers on. “So we did.”

“Did what?” her mother whispers.

“Got married. We got married.”

“You didn’t.”

“We did.”

It’s Mr. Bernier’s turn to join in the fun, but he isn’t whispering. “No. You. Didn’t.” Not whispering at all. He’s somehow shouting without raising his voice from his normal speaking volume. We’re too far away to have felt the spit, but I heard the splatter with each word. I’m dying to see if the veins are still running underneath the skin or if they’ve somehow broken through, but I’m too scared to look at him. And I’m suddenly unsure about the future of my testicles. Should’ve worn the cup.

“We did,” Annie says again. “Two weeks ago. But I just moved my stuff into his apartment today.”

“You what?” her mother gasps.

I brace for the explosion of tears, but they don’t come. I’ve made the mistake of expecting my mother’s reaction when clearly Annie’s warrior mask is a genetic trait. Mrs. Bernier has gone whiter than her walls, but she looks more likely to slap Annie than faint.

Annie doesn’t repeat what they’ve already heard. She turns to her dad and says, “Don’t be mad.”

“I’ll be mad if I want to be mad. Don’t tell me not to be mad!” This time I actually feel the spit. One speck on my forearm and one on my cheek. I don’t wipe it off on the off chance that he’s one of those predators who can’t see you if you don’t move, but when you do he disembowels you and eats your intestines like spaghetti.


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