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The Vow

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No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?

432 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2013

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Jessica Martinez

25 books241 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 203 reviews
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews771 followers
September 25, 2013
3.5 stars

The Vow was another book which I had highly been anticipating, the pretty cover and story of two friends who would do anything for one another I found highly appealing. However in parts it delivered everything I was asking for, but in other parts it left me feeling sort of conflicted.

Mo and Annie had been friends for years, no one ever understood their friendship; how could these two only just be friends? But Annie and Mo found friendship in one another when they had nobody else. Mo and Annie saved one another when they needed to be saved the most and since then their friendship has just become even stronger. Their friendship is easy going that they’re there when they need each other the most. But then news comes through that Mo has to go back to Jordan with his dad’s visa no longer valid, the whole family has to leave as soon as possible. Annie feels bereft; she knows she will end up losing so much with Mo not being around, so they decide to do the only thing which will keep Mo in the US. Get married.

I from the very beginning really wanted Mo to stay too, it was clear even though they weren’t going the right way about it, there would be so many consequences for both of them, but their friendship was one that kept them both going through life. Annie had her parents constantly watching her, things had ended badly for Annie’s sister and so her parents had been over protective ever since. Only Mo was able to understand this. And then with everything Mo had to go through with moving to the US and everyone immediately assuming he was a terrorist, Annie understood how tough it could be for him. So yes more than anything I wanted Mo to stay in the US.

As expected Mo and Annie’s marriage wasn’t smooth sailing, there were several obstacles along the way which prevented them from keeping their marriage under wraps, as they wanted to. And of course unsupportive parents on both sides who couldn’t understand why they would want to ruin their lives or even offer an inch of support. So Mo and Annie truly found themselves on their own. But I appreciated watching Annie and Mo trying to make the most of what they had. I enjoyed getting both characters sides of the story, despite having so many differences. I liked how Martinez intertwined their stories together at the start of each of their pov. Instead of getting that jolty vibe of having to get used to a different perspective, the subtle linking of chapters really made the flow of the story a smooth one.

With both Annie and Mo having so many problems of their own to deal with, it was easy to get inside their head and connect with them both. With dual pov stories, I usually end up finding myself with a favourite pov and not really caring about the other one, but it was not the case here. I didn’t find myself wanting to skip ahead, but enjoyed taking my time and appreciating both stories.

My only real complaint (if you can even call it that) is that things didn’t really go the way I expected it to.

The Vow was a story which really took me by surprise, Martinez ability to write heartfelt stories is clearly evident. Although I didn’t really enjoy The Vow as much as Martinez debut novel Virtuosity, The Vow was still a great read which I’m glad I gave a try.
Profile Image for Hana Bilqisthi.
Author 4 books258 followers
May 28, 2017
The premise is great.
The plot is realistic
But the writing is not really good especially the first part. There are so many filler and unnecessary part but it get better and better.
And I really like the message "there is always a way out" and "giving up is an option"
3.5 star for Mo and Anne
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
April 1, 2013
In this one we have rash decisions founded on a long time relationship that defies definition. I've got to hand it to Jessica Martinez... neither of her previous books feel as different as this one does. The leads and their connection to each other especially stand out.. then there's what's allowed to happen because of that link.

The two are set apart but for reasons that differ. He's the foreigner come into a small town community where people make it their business to know what others around them are up to. She's tragic girl. So they're not actually set aside, more but set apart. And it's them living a fishbowl life- for so different reasons- that their connection is made. Anyway, different reasons but the same experiences make for a pair of kids believable both in their individual flaws then them as odd ball couple (but not a 'couple' couple though.)

Mo. He's sharp and a sarcastic and observant and has ill timing with his humor. It's his humor that had me liking him with each funny he made (tried to make) especially when made at her expense, his own expense, or his/her family's expense... because despite the self-described 'paranoid' feel of his words, there's truth and accuracy to what he was saying (about family, his and hers in particular.. not about society in general, though the things he could say about that...!)

Then there's the less than stellar side of Mo: RASH, I said. And it's true, too. There's a lack of forethought to what takes place so that in much of the book, we have this kid (funny kid) dealing with the what-now's while being so obviously ill equipped to do so. But the best part was him wanting one thing, seeing certain aspects only, zeroing in on what was lost and what was not done... these all felt authentically young to me. It made him a bit more real. There's a selfishness to him that made him more than the funny guy except that's not the only thing about him; he really isn't as bad as all that sounds, especially with his best friend, his sister, and even his sister's evil cat all factored in.

Annie. She's almost too good to be true for me... except a lot of this is her choosing to do things because of a need to be somebody for someone. Dutiful daughter, afraid to rock thimgs on the homefront, and at the same time being gung ho (almost desperate) about keeping the only person who gets her close by. So, it's her need to be somebody for someone else (though not obvious at first) that's both so wonderful then terrible about her. Her Tragic past has her walking on egg shells around her parents and nurturing her and Mo's unexpected connection.

And it's the second that makes the story interesting (such a tame word) more interesting upon the entry of new boy. I'll be frank, I don't think new boy was a necessary addition... because the story with her/his family and Mo and connections of the weak and strong type THEN the necessity of making decisions for herself then for/because of others? Well, while I didn't quite cry, it seemed like I had a lump the size of golf ball stuck in my throat close to the end there.


Thank you, Edelweiss
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,312 reviews502 followers
February 18, 2014
Wow, that was an emotional ride. The story was well written and makes you feel the character's emotions. I laughed and cried so much while reading this book, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Mo's such a funny guy you can't help yourself but laugh at what he's saying.

Mo and Annie are best friends for years now, and even if no one believes them when they're telling their relationship is platonic, they don't really care because they loves each other. They're both struggling with what life is throwing at them, but not being alone helped them through all this. But then, their situation is starting to crumble when Mo's family has to 'go back home' in Jordan. They only have two weeks. Two weeks to find a solution, or to say goodbye. They're willing to do anything to make him stay in the United States, even if it means getting married and lie to everyone around them. It should be simple, right? Wrong. It won't be as simple as they first thought even if they're sharing good moments when they're together.

Then, there is Reed. What can I say about him? I just love him. He's such a great character, he's kind, patient, nice to look at and he sees right through Annie's facade. You can really feel their chemistry and I just wanted more. More of him, more of romance. But the book doesn't concentrate on the romance part and that's a good thing because it made the story even more raw and real.

But frankly, the end was just so sad even if I knew deep inside me that it was the good decision for them to make. I wanted Mo and Annie to be happy together, and I would have liked to see more of Reed maybe in an epilogue or something.

So, you should give it a try, because this book can be really enjoyable even if painful sometimes.
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews566 followers
October 15, 2013

The Vow is Jessica Martinez's third young adult novel, following her debut, Virtuosity, and her sophomore offering, The Space Between Us. If you've never read one of Martinez's novels, what are you waiting for?? Like her first two books, The Vow is impossible to put down and incredibly intense.

Annie and Mo have been best friends since Annie came to Mo's rescue in elementary school after an unfortunate pants wetting incident. Ever since, the two have been inseparable. Mo is sarcastic and super focused on his future. Annie is the good daughter, careful to never upset her parents, who keep her close after the violent loss of Annie's older sister years before. When Mo's father loses his job, the entire family faces deportation back to Jordan. Despite the fact that Mo has grown up in the US and considers himself American, he will be forced to return to Jordan as well. Annie can't imagine life without Mo and Mo can't imagine leaving Annie, not to mention everything he's worked so hard for in the US, so they devise a desperate plan: marriage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their solution isn't as simple as they first assume. Marriage is never simple, especially when it's done secretly and in less than legal circumstances. The fallout of their actions affect Mo and Annie's lives in ways they hadn't expected and may not be ready to handle.

This book deals with so many different important themes, from platonic relationships to romantic relationships and marriage, familial love and interaction, sibling bonds, racism, prejudice, bullying, loyalty, betrayal, lies, and hard truths. It might sound impossible to make all of these big, complicated things fit together, but Martinez does so in a beautifully complex way. Every issue feels right, nothing is forced, and nothing feels overlooked or unresolved. To me, that would have been a complete disservice to any of the issues within the novel - to have one of these big issues made to seem small next to another issue - but Martinez gracefully sidestepped this potential problem and artfully wove the various themes together to form a story both endearing and compelling.

While I'll never say that Annie or Mo is perfect, I really loved them together. Their imperfections make them the perfect friends. One of the shining achievements of The Vow was the fact that Annie and Mo are not romantically involved. While they do love one another, it is the love born of friendship and understanding rather than crushes and romance. I really feel like this kind of friendship and love is rare to find in literature and, often, in real life... especially between a guys and girls.

I was deeply affected by the prejudice and judgement Annie and Mo must endure from the people they encounters in their small southern town. I'm from a small town and I am all too familiar with the racism and prejudice that can fester in these slow parts of the country. Annie doesn't really seem to understand... or maybe she just doesn't want to understand... what Mo's going through. She defends her parents when they make completely horrible and uncalled for comments about Mo and his family and I cringed every single time. At the same time, Mo's family makes some off color assumptions about Annie as well that caused me to tense. Throughout everything, the judgement and comments, the stares and whispers, Annie and Mo stick together. They may not always do the right thing, but they persevere and try to communicate and understand what the other is going through. To me, this attempt to understand and communicate despite the mistakes and misunderstandings are paramount to overcoming prejudice and judgement within the novel and in real life. Annie and Mo, despite their shortcomings, set a fantastic example.

Obviously, there's a lot more I could say about The Vow. This book tackles so many different things that it's impossible to read it and not find something within its pages to connect with, which makes it an emotional and engrossing read. I highly, highly recommend this novel to contemporary fiction readers, regardless of age.
Profile Image for Tee loves Kyle Jacobson.
2,474 reviews171 followers
May 3, 2013
Can I just say WOW and WOW again because The Vow is one of those books that will take you there and by there I mean it will have you thinking about things you never ever thought you would think about.So I have to give kudos to Jessica Martinez for doing her homework and creating a story that crosses every boundary known to man. Lord first off getting married at 17 or 18 is a crazy idea but then marrying your best friend is even crazier and the reason behind said marriage is even crazier than I expected. Imagine two people from two different worlds coming together to have one common goal and that is to keep a friendship alive and allow the other person to have a life they would not have if they were in another country. A lot of babble here at first but it is necessary because I have seen a lot of negative reviews for this book and I just don't get it. Some have even said the book should not have been written well to them I say the book should be written and has been written and published. If you do not like the contents of the book then you should not have read it. It states clearly that the boy is from Jordan and the girl is American. Once again I say to Jessica KUDOS and mad props to you for stepping outside the box and doing something that is not normally done.

Mo and Annie have been friends best friends for years and things are about to change and not in a good way. Mo's father has lost his visa to be in America and is moving back to Jordan with his family. Mo and Annie are crushed and that is when Annie decides she will do whatever it takes to keep her best friend in the states. What unfolds from there is the crux of the story and I do not want to ruin it for anyone who is willing to give this book a try. Annie will sacrifice much more than Mo and in the end what happens for both of them is amazing. I have never read a book where I am rooting for something that is not conventional but this book brings it out of you and it makes you want to be there right there with the characters and wanting to help them make the right decisions but when the decisions are made and the dust settles there will be lots of heart ache and lots of regrets and lots of love to go around. Give this book a chance because it might just be something you will enjoy.
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,042 followers
Want to read
September 20, 2014
No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

I find that a little stupid/ignorant. A guy and a girl can very much be strictly BFFs, even if they're both straight. But whatever.
Profile Image for Stephanie A..
2,368 reviews67 followers
September 7, 2020
I've avoided this book for years because of how much I inherently dislike "guys and girls can be Just Friends" stories (not within sight of my shipper goggles they can't! not unless one of them doesn't even merit friend status), but then I spent this summer mainlining Community for the seventh time and realized, "Oh yeah, sometimes that does make sense to me." I'm glad I was finally able to appreciate this one for what it was: one of the sweetest friendships I've ever read.

Aside from the annoying way each chapter starts with the same sentence as the last one of the previous chapter (in a new context), I really enjoyed that the perspective traded off. I preferred Mo as a character, but I adored Annie & Reed's romance. Kind of wished it hadn't happened so simultaneously with the marriage plot, because it was better than most YA romances yet I felt like I couldn't ever fully enjoy it since from the moment it began, she was either ignoring Mo when he really needed her or wringing her hands with guilt over her secret-keeping.

I do feel like the "raped and murdered sister" angle was A LOT to throw in as backstory, and at times I really wished I was reading a separate book about it that dug into those feelings deeper, instead of having to share the stage with a marriage of convenience plot -- which, by the way, takes place way later in the book than I expected. This is such an unusual and delightful YA premise that I wanted way more cohabiting shenanigans before the end (although skateboarding to get groceries was pretty cute, no matter what her buzzkill mom says). I'm engaged, darn it, and I want to hear all about the first flush of moving in with someone, even if it's just platonic, with a teenage-appropriateness filter in place.

However, though there was some serious suspension of disbelief required about their lack of foresight -- literally HOW do you know about green card marriages yet not know how closely they are scrutinized; in what universe do you think you wouldn't be required to ever live together?? -- I nevertheless enjoyed their terrible plan from beginning to end.

Profile Image for Summer Randolph.
76 reviews37 followers
December 3, 2013
Originally posted at Blue Sky Bookshelf

Note: If I had to give this a starred rating, I would give it a 2.5 so I rounded up.

When I saw the cover and then read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it. How could I not? Two best friends come together to save one of them from moving back to Jordan by falling in fake love. I went on Edelweiss and being a newbie member, I thought, why not? Then I got accepted.

Unfortunately, that was short-lived.

The story switched from Annie's to Mo's perspectives every other chapter, which I didn't mind. I like seeing into each character's mind, especially in this type of plot. We start off with their normal day life. It takes a little less than 90 pages for us to actually reach to the point of Mo finding out that he has to be deported. Then twenty pages later, they have the idea of marrying to save him. Technically, it was Annie's idea. Calling him in the middle of the night, she proposes to him.

They go through an awkward day of not mentioning it again, both wondering if the other had backed out. When they finally confirm that yes, they will do it and Mo keeps asking Annie if she will back out, they finally formulate a plan...of sorts.

That was my biggest beef. I appreciate some background and some bonding time with the characters before we have to sympathize and cheer them on, but it felt like too much time. We know what will happen. We know that Mo will have to get deported and then he tells Annie and that somehow, some way, they will get the idea to marry. So during the first 90 pages, I started getting more anxious and more impatient to just get on with it. When they finally had the proposal out of the way, they both were so unsure of themselves. Understandable, but I was already impatient to get the show on the road.

I like to be swept away on emotions. Since that did not happen, I retreated into my realistic mindset. Annie and Mo were incredibly unorganized. Mo's family moves away that week after they finally decide to go to the courthouse and get hitched. Mo believes that he can still be the high school boy whose only responsibilities are basketball and school and of course, his sister's demon cat. His father is mad at him, but still is paying for all living expenses. However, he continues to come off as if his whole life is so unfair. When he runs into a friend who is furious with what happened, he starts talking about telling him the truth. He hates the fact that he's alone, bemoans about his family, but continually tries to be sensitive by asking Annie if she wants to back out through the whole novel.

Boy, you just got handed everything you wanted. Snap out of it.

When they met with the law student, Annie and Mo were baffled to find out that they actually had to act like a real couple. What a shocker. That seemed so unrealistic to me. If you were going through with this plan, I would think you would have researched and found that out on the internet. It's very easy. Of course, cue Mo telling Annie that if she wants to back out, she should do it now and that he understands.

Annie, for her part, was not as bad, but still annoyed me to some extent. She does get brownie points for standing strong. No matter what crud she got from her parents or obstacles she faced, she stayed loyal to Mo. She even kept going and stood her ground when he kept offering her to change her mind. I even wanted to applaud her when she told him to not do it again. I understand how her relationship with her parents needed to be treaded lightly, but since I was not in her situation, it was easy for me to tell her to grow a backbone. Thankfully, with the whole situation with Mo, she was able to do that. I thought the scene with her mother and the credit card was unnecessary though. Rude, in my opinion.

The main emotion I picked up on was fear. Her parents are scared. Annie is scared of scaring her parents. Mo is scared to leave Jordan. Mo is scared to stay in America. Mo's sister is scared to go to Jordan. EVERYONE IS SCARED.

It did get better when loyalty started to conquer any fear, but I felt impatient. What Annie's family had to go through was traumatic. Please do not think I'm taking it lightly. I feel horrible for any family that has to be put in that situation and wish that it never has to happen again. But the daughter inside of me thinks that the parents shouldn't be insane helicopter parents and that Annie should regain her life. As for Mo's fear, he needs to make up his mind.

After flipping out on Mo for the thought of telling his friend the truth, which was justified, she then has the nerve to be a hypocrite and do what she told him not to do. Of course, it was for the sake of love. Blech.

I guess I didn't read the whole synopsis, because I don't remember that last sentence:

Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?

I thought I had read somewhere that there was a teaser question about what if they find love along the way, or something similar to that. I was surprised when it kept going the path that I did not want it to tack. Reed? I wasn't a fan. I might have been if I wasn't rooting the whole best friends route. I didn't hate him, but I didn't like him either.

Overall, I think my expectations should have been different and that would have helped with my liking of this book. I wanted more of the difficulties a marriage or a proposal would bring to two friends. I wanted everything that this storyline would generally bring, but received something much different. I commend the author giving this plot a different twist and more of a focus on loyalty and best friends. I also like the whole idea that two opposite sex friends can still remain friends. I think it would have played out better if there wasn't that one scene with Mo and how his thoughts started changing...something that was never resolved or explained.

It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great to me either.

Verdict: A contemporary storyline of loyalty, friendship, and overcoming grief that I did not get into due to annoyances.
Profile Image for Cynthia (Bingeing On Books).
1,655 reviews121 followers
January 21, 2019
I started out liking this book. I loved Annie and Mo’s friendship and thought her plan was so selfless and wonderful. I liked that these two people were straight and yet had no feelings for each other beyond friendship. Even though the ending was a bit predictable, there were other things that frustrated me so much about this book. One was the insta-love between Annie and Reed. One date and she is basically lying to her best friend and struggling with being in love with him. Ugh. Also, there was not nearly enough done or said about Annie’s sister’s death and her relationship with her parents as a result. That was left unresolved, even though it was a big reason for Annie’s plan and a huge source of conflict with her parents treating her like a child. I would have rather see something like that as an obstacle to her plan with Mo instead of some “relationship” with a guy she has known ten minutes. This book was just more frustrating than emotional for me.
Profile Image for Colleen Whale.
131 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2021
Mo and Annie have been best friends since the day Annie helped Mo out of a very embarrassing situation when they were children. After that, Mo stuck by Annie as she dealt with the emotional blow of losing her sister at a young age. As teenagers, they're inseparable, but neither of them have anything other than platonic feelings towards the other, something their friends and family just don't understand. Then when Mo's dad's company goes under and his work Visa is now invalid, Mo's family has to move back to Jordan. Desperate to keep her best friend in America, Annie "proposes" to Mo that they get married. Mo, being underaged, gets legal consent from his mom and off to the courthouse they go, without anyone's support but Mo's mom. After getting some legal advice, they find out that in order for this to work they have to actually "be" married, not just on paper. So Annie movies out from under her parents' strict thumb and into Mo's apartment.

This was a super cute story. I liked it because it was different and not your typical YA plot. I enjoyed Mo's and Annie's friendship, it really is a special bond that they have. I really liked how the end of each chapter flowed right into the following chapter, the way it was done was really creative and it made me have trouble putting the book down after each chapter. I had to at least read that first sentence each time. I could feel Annie's heartbreak during certain points of the book and understand how torn she was. I give this book 3 stars though because in some parts, the writing fell flat. Like I said, it was cute, but it wasn't an amazing piece of literature. I also felt that the ending was a little rushed and I would've liked more of a conclusion, an epilogue or something.
Profile Image for Shadowsinger .
37 reviews2 followers
September 10, 2023
I loved reading this book, it was really refreshing having a book written about two best friends who DON’T end up together but I felt like the story had a lot of faults to it. Like I feel like Annie deals with a lot of problems but none of them have a clear resolution and it just feels a little muddled to me at least sometimes. Also, the way how Mo’s feelings started to “change” for Annie but then SuDeNLy went back to normal was way off for me like I think the author should’ve really wrote that part a bit better. However I still think people should give this book a try…?!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
November 20, 2018
This was a really good book, although I didn’t want to read it at first because I was expecting a sad ending. It was very interesting and different from anything else I have read. Annie and Mo have a beautiful friendship and decide to do something dangerous to protect their friendship. Even though the ending wasn’t quite what I hoped, I still enjoyed reading it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for emma.
105 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2019
The characters in this book are good but sometimes get a little bit annoying. I wish I could have connected more with Reed but I never liked him or disliked him. He was just kind of there I guess. BUT THE ENDING OH MY GOSH THE ENDING. The story was good and the small side plots made it interesting.
Profile Image for Jenni Arndt.
438 reviews330 followers
October 3, 2013
One thing that is always a pleasant surprise when it comes to contemporary novels for me is when one that I expected to be passive and fun ends up having way more layers than I could have imagined. That’s what happened with The Vow. Between the racism that Mo suffers and what happened in the past to Annie’s sister, there is a lot of emotion in this novel. Unfortunately some of the happenings in the story just seemed a bit too unrealistic for me to fully invest in it.

Annie and Mo have been best friends for years. People don’t get how a boy and girl can be just friends but they have always maintained that that is all they are to each other. When Mo’s father loses his job and the family is faced with having to go back to Jordan because along with the job his dad’s visa also runs out Annie concocts a plan to marry Mo so that he can stay in the country. A lot of what unravels in the story had me bothered with the characters and especially the parents. Annie is 18 and portrayed as a pretty smart girl but she jumps head on into this marriage without even thinking about where Mo would live, how they would make money, or the repercussions of a false marriage in the grand scheme of things. I was really angry that Mo’s living situation wasn’t discussed at all before the marriage and then all of a sudden his father was wiring him money, giving him his car and had an apartment set up for him. This was completely out of character for who his father was set up to be. I also found it really hard to believe that Annie’s parents, who were portrayed as extremely over protective despite her age just let her walk out the door with no attempt to contact her for weeks once she broke the marriage to them.

Despite my frustrations with a lot of the happenings and with the parental units in this story I did really like the the back story and majority of the character development we got for Annie and Mo. I had no idea that there were so many dark undertones in the novel and I really appreciated them. Having moved to America around the time of 9/11, dark skin colored Mohammed (Mo) was stereotyped by everyone in the small town of Elizabethtown. The closed mindedness of a lot of the residents was shocking but incredibly real to life and it was so sad to see Mo go through that. Not only do we witness the racism from when the family first came to America, but through Sarina, Mo’s sister, we also get glimpses of how the people of Jordan acted much the same towards her once she returned much more Americanized. There is also a very dark history in Annie’s family with the tragic murder of her sister. I felt like Annie’s feelings in the aftermath of that could have been explored much more. We see clearly that her parents are suffering and how it has affected how they parent and even their marriage but I didn’t feel like I got a clear picture of Annie’s strife.

We do see Annie open up in her blooming relationship with Reed which is of course sidelined by her marriage to Mo. But all throughout the novel I really liked Reed. He was incredibly sweet and an incredible cook, so what is there not to like there? I thought that their romance was really well built and I was rooting for them the entire book. While I did have some issues with this one I can definitely say that it was an entertaining novel that did manage to pull on my heart strings here and there.

An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.
Profile Image for Missy.
421 reviews81 followers
October 15, 2013
View the full review here:

Annie and Mo are about as close as you can be without actually being a couple. They know each other through and through and, above all else, they have their backs. Mo's life, however, is in turmoil when his father's work visa is denied and the inevitability of his deportation is imminent. Annie is equally devastated, but she's determined to do something. The answer is there, but it could change everything - even there friendship. Is it really worth it?

The premise of The Vow is remarkable and incredibly relevant for much of our culture, so when it crossed my radar, I knew that I had to have it. Known for her ability to craft meaningful, relevant and sensitive tales that speak to even the most stubborn of hearts, Jessica Martinez has written a story with two loving and lovable characters sure to pull at your heartstrings. With a delicate touch of sincerity, naivety, plenty of drama and the story of two vastly different worlds, The Vow has it all.

Before I even begin my review, it must be said that Ms. Martinez is truly a remarkable writer. She has this ability to spin true reality into something that's raw, tangible and accessible without ever seeming even remotely preachy. That is great for a fairly issue-driven novel such as The Vow. Annie and Mo were two very different characters. Annie was, at times, needy and driven by selfish motives which, in essence, actually fuels the fire of the plot. Mo was a bit selfish, as well, only thinking of himself, rather than his family as a whole. He also lacked a sort of personal drive and ambition that would have pushed my liking his character to the next level. I was essentially kind of iffy on the both of them, simply because I couldn't truly find myself invested in their motives. That said, the plot of The Vow is another story entirely. While I struggled to find a sort of sense of compassion for Annie and Mo, I felt so very invested in the plotline, itself. As their actions and lack of understanding of the gravity and enormity of their actions started to come to light, the tension of the story kicked up to an entirely different level. At this point, there was a minor character shift, and I could almost see a lightbulb turn on for Annie, which redeemed her somewhat in my eyes. While the plausibility of the two teens doing this nagged at my rational side at times, I was generally impressed with how the story played out, though I'll definitely state that the writing and plot overshadowed the characters.

All in all, The Vow wasn't without its flaws, but it's a solid story and another great example of Ms. Martinez's writing. I definitely know I can look to her for quality contemporary. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
Profile Image for Debbie.
295 reviews127 followers
October 11, 2013

2.5 Stars

At a glance, reading the synopsis, this story sounds completely...ridiculous. It does, and for the better part of the novel, I couldn't bring myself to understand why anyone would want to write a novel about this. But near the end I could see why because this is a huge issue and the longer you think about it, it's a story about friendship but deeper and has a lot more meaning. The Vow is maybe the book that defines the line between best friends and best friends.

Characters aren't distinguished enough for me, I had to keep flipping back to see who I was reading about. It didn't help that chapter's end and start with the same sentence as the previous one. Also I had a hard time connecting with both Annie and Mo and feeling sorry for their situation. I understood that Mo's life sucks but I couldn't really understand how Annie needs him in her life or else she'll die. I think this is because of how the story is paced since it's so horribly off. At the beginning of the book, the story is so extremely slow but it's fine since the friendship had to be shown to readers but then out of nowhere, it's unbelievably fast with everything only being half explained or done.

I liked that the novel changes and is tells both sides of the story even though they sound similar it's still nice to know not only what Annie's thinking but also how Mo is feeling since he's the one who's leaving. The sarcasm is pretty well done, and Jessica Martinez uses just the right amount of racism to get people to realize that it plays a huge part in life but not enough to make people uncomfortable.

The Vow isn't a novel that I expected to get something out of but I'm glad that I did. However I hated how apathetic I felt towards everything and everyone in it and I couldn't enjoy this as much as I wanted to. Still, I recommend this to anyone who's looking for a novel that has a better message than story. I don't think I could ever attempt to do the things or give up things that both Annie and Mo have done just to keep their friendship alive because it's such a hard thing to do. For anyone.
Profile Image for Fiction_TheNewReality.
108 reviews106 followers
January 14, 2014
Review: A huge thank you to The ARCycling Program for providing me with this ARC copy for review! I was a little skeptical with this book at first. I usually don't read "unusual" contemporary novels, where the storyline is not flat-out love, but I decided to take a chance with The Vow, and I am so glad I did.

Storyline/Plot This storyline broke my heart. It was everything they couldn't say, everything they couldn't do, all wrapped up into one book. It was definitely a realistic concept written very well, and told with true emotion and charm.

Characters: The characters were really interesting! Each one was kind of peculiar in their own way, and they came together to form something so real and tangible. Both Annie and Mo were flawed, and their flaws came together to form a wonderfully raw story.

Writing: The Vow was such a roller coaster ride of emotions. I started off the book with a set mindframe, convinced I was not going to change my opinion, but Jessica Martinez wove a story where I came out and was like, "what is going on? How am I okay with changing my mind?" The writing, in general, was fabulous, and I had no problem connecting with the characters. The emotions Jessica made me feel as I read deeper and deeper into Annie and Mo's story was a problem for the "use in case of feels" tissues used, but I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

Romance: I really can't say too much about the romance aspect of this book without giving too much away! I didn't know what to expect, but I really loved the path the romance in this book ended up taking. It seems only fitting, and you'll just have to read it for yourself to find out;)

Jessica Martinez writes a raw and emotional new novel that will leave you stunned and wanting more. Guaranteed.
Profile Image for Geraldine (geraldinereads).
507 reviews108 followers
October 21, 2013
Originally posted on my blog: Stack of Hardbacks

I usually don't read contemporary, because it seems like the plots are all along the same lines. But, after reading the synopsis for The Vow, it came across as something new and exciting; especially when it came to the plot. I mean having to marry your best friend to have him stay in the U.S is pretty crazy.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book, they were so real and easy to relate to. My favorite character had to be Mo hands down. Mo came off as someone who was really genuine and of course very loyal when it came to his friendship with Annie. You also get a sneak peak into Mo's life and get to see how he felt when he first came to the United States; which wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. I personally think the author did an amazing job when it came to creating Mo's character, because Mo and I had very similar situations (I myself came to the United States at a very young age because of my dad's job as well). Therefore, I could completely relate!

Overall, I didn't find anything wrong with this book besides my usual "I wish it was longer" complaint! It was even so addicting that I started and finished it in the same day. It had my attention the whole time, and I seriously could not put it down! Oh and let's not even talk about that ending. The feels, the feels!

If contemporary doesn't fancy you, I still recommend picking this up, because it's unlike any other YA contemporary I've ever read. If you're not much of a reader, yet loved the movie, Like Crazy...I don't know why you're still reading this. Go pick up The Vow now! You won't regret it!
Profile Image for S.E..
288 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2014
I have come across so many stories of people entering marriages of convenience for the sake of a US green card that “The Vow” should not have attracted my attention. However, it did, mainly because this is the first time the subject matter is introduced in a YA book, and my first thought was : Will this be a book that Lea will read?'

Mo and Annie are best friends. Mo’s father loses his job and the family has to relocate back to Jordan. Annie proposes that they get married so that Mo can continue to stay in America even though they are not in love. On the surface, this drastic move comes across as a foolish and impetuous one, and as the story unfolds, readers get to understand Annie’s emotional dependency on Mo and why she couldn’t let him go. It was, to all intents and purposes, a decision that’s full of heart and loyalty but nil in forethought, wisdom and honesty.

We cannot expect the young to be wise, but a lot of trouble, complications and heartache could have been avoided if Mo and Annie had done their homework before plunging into wrongful matrimony. That said, if they had applied prior thought and planning, there would not be a story left to write. Sigh. What can I say except that heart aches with every wrong decision they make and every lie they tell.

From the flow of the story, readers can predict what will happen in the end; I do not see any other satisfactory conclusion to close this book. And I am really glad that it does not end any other way. [I should get my daughter to read this book; it will make for some real interesting discussions…]
Profile Image for Erica.
93 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2016
This book was exciting and fast paced, but not my favorite.

The two main characters, Annie and Mo, are typical best friends but they aren't romantically involved.

In the beginning of this book I found it to be confusing just because you don't know why the characters are doing the things they're doing until it's later explained.

The ending was heart wrenching but nice to read. I had a tears by the end. While I thought there could've been closure to wrap up the story. I still overall felt like it was a good, satisfying ending.

My favorite character was Mo and hopefully you'll understand once you read the novel. Mo is down to earth, says what he thinks type of guy. He is always honest. While other characters may lie to him, themselves, and others, Mo is pure at heart. Mo's relationship with his family is special.

I'd recommend this novel because of the dynamics it brings in: coming of age, love, responsibility, legal binds. Unfortunately, I rated it low because looking back it was not memorable nor would I probably reread it. It was a good story at first reading.
Profile Image for Andrea.
166 reviews22 followers
November 10, 2013
So slow I skipped entire chapters to get to some action...which never happened! I thought she was going to fall in love with this guy, when I skipped to the end and they were in the same place they were in chapter one I was like seriously? If that's the pay off I get for my time investment then I'll read something else.
Profile Image for Mary Catherine.
232 reviews4 followers
March 8, 2013
I know it's only March, but this should go on everyone's reading list for the fall season. So not what I was expecting (but what I was expecting, I'm not even sure) and a beautiful, realistic story of all types of love.
Profile Image for Gaby.
483 reviews308 followers
September 12, 2016
Review originally posted on Queen Ella Bee Reads


Mo and Annie are best friends - but they're not secretly in love with each other. They really are just best friends who platonically love each other very much - Annie having gone through the murder of her big sister just as Mo, the very foreign, vaguely Muslim boy moved to Annie's ignorant small town. They were both ostracized and there for each other at just the right moment, really. So when Mo is being ushered back to a society that won't accept him now that he's become Westernized, Annie decides the only course of action is marriage. However, marriage becomes less and less of an option as Annie realizes the distance it creates between herself and everything she holds dear. So it's up to Annie, and Mo, to figure out a way to live with themselves.

I Liked:

- The Emotion: Oh gosh, talk about pulling your heart strings. This book'll absolutely kill you. I mean, you know before you start that Mo's going to be deported, but you don't know all the emotional baggage/history between the two and this book does a really good job of painting the picture. Annie and Mo have absolutely always been there for each other. They might bicker, but it's not real fighting - it's just messing around. They can read each other so well and know what the other does and doesn't like down to the smallest thing. They lean so heavily on each other and it's all so well portrayed in their actions that you can't even imagine them being separated after only the first chapter.
- The Situation: The prose does an excellent job of making you really feel for these characters, but it's also a tough situation in general. I know people who've faced the possibility of deportation and it's a truly terrifying thing. To go back to a place you don't even really know where hardly know the language, have no one and will be seen as an outsider? Yeah, I wouldn't want that. Annie's situation is also really tough, what with her murdered sister and overprotective parents. Not to mention the fact that she finally finds love (in a town where everyone knows about her murdered sister and won't even really look at her with anything more than pity) just as Mo's being sent away. I mean, no one's really gonna win in this one.
- The Prose: I've mentioned the emotional prose, of course, but my all-time favorite part of this book is the way the chapters end and begin. They kind of lead into one another. Like, the last sentence in the chapter will be like, "He's the only one." And the first sentence in the next chapter is, "I can't be the only one." (*Example taken from the book.*) This structure is 1. incredibly clever 2. so very different from anything else I've read and 3. addictive. It made it so hard to put this book down. I just wanted to keep going and going, seeing how one sentence leads into the next.
- Annie and Mo: I feel like my bullet point "The Emotion" covers why I love these two. They're just so perfect together in a platonic way (even though that line maybe gets blurred a little later in the book). The ease and comfort between the two of them in enviable and it's nice to see a solid friendship in a book - one so good that the girl would offer to marry the guy in order to keep him in the country. Obviously, marriage is more complicated than a solid friendship, though. Although, that doesn't mean this book ends in one way or another. You'll have to read to find out how it all goes down.
- Reed: This boy is so delicious I cannot even. That is all.
- Sam: I like this surrogate older sister Jessica Martinez stuck into this book for Annie. Sam's exactly what Annie needs. She's the sounding board, the no questions asked adviser and the judgement-less friend. Even though Sam plays such a small role, I don't think Annie could have gotten as far as she did without her.
- The Message: I think a lot of this book is about identity. One layer of this bullet point can be found in Mo's nationality. Is he American, is he Jordanian, is he a hybrid no one can really accept? And what does it mean if he's the last one? And then there's Annie. She doesn't seem to have an identity either. She's the only child left behind after a terrible murder. She's hidden away and jerked around so much that who she is get shoved inside this box - it doesn't matter as long as she's alive. Now, only Mo and Annie really see each other for who they are, which is part of the reason Annie wants Mo to stay so badly, but in trying to keep Mo with her, is Annie giving away those bit she keeps hidden inside? Is she tethering too much to Mo? Does she need to have things/get control of things herself? And maybe she's always had things - her family, included, despite the tight leach - that she wasn't even aware of and doesn't want to lose. It's an interesting set of questions I'm still thinking about.

I Disliked:

- The Structure - Sort Of: This is one of those dual narrative books. One chapter is from Annie's POV and one's from Mo's, back and forth. I like this. I think this book needed that in order to really cover all it's bases. However, I sometimes felt like I wanted to see one thing or another from someone else's perspective - mostly because I thought the other character's perspective on the events would be more compelling. I also felt like Annie was the dominant one of the two. She's the one with the potential real love interest. She's also the one who holds all the power in the marriage decision. Finally, she won't have to move to a foreign country if she doesn't get married. Mo's kind of at Annie's mercy, really, and that made me mad at certain points of the book. But I don't think I would have been half as mad if there'd been a little bit more from Mo on the emotions and whatever he felt about going back. There definitely was some of that, but I would have liked more.
- Annie: Like I mentioned, Annie has all the power. And I like that she takes control of her life and her choices - y'know, because she'd pretty much been trying to be her sister for the whole book - but I didn't love her moments of selfishness. Mo's being deported/kicked out of the country and she can't stop thinking about this boy in the frozen yogurt shop. Even when she moves out and infuriates her parents, that's all that matters. And, y'know, I love Reed too, but I kept feeling like she'd have her priorities in better order after everything she'd been through. I didn't not like her, I just think she could have been a little bit more practical.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Heartbreakingly different from everything I've read recently (and least plot-wise) and highly emotional.
World Building: I know a couple of people who've gone through this and it's just as miserable as this book makes it out to be.
Character Development: I liked the way each of the main characters progressed, even though I could have used a little more or less from both of them.
Prose: Like the plot, so very different, emotional and incredibly addictive.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This is one for lovers of contemporary - especially issue books. It's not about drugs or suicide or anything like that, but I think it runs through a lot of those high-emotion situations that contain these heartbreakingly impossible choices. So if you're looking for something unique in the sea of contemporary books, this is the one for you.
Profile Image for Sophie.
171 reviews32 followers
July 19, 2016
There’s going to be a lot of ranting in this review, because as an international student, I can relate to a lot of the immigration issues that Jessica Martinez (Canadian!) brings up in The Vow. I found myself inevitably drowning in the book, and even though I kind of knew how the story would end, it didn’t make The Vow any less emotional to read. Martinez captured the feelings of a heartwrenching friendship while tackling serious issues such as illegal immigration, race discrimination, and rape.

Mo and Annie have been best friends since they were ten, and even though everyone thinks they’re more than friends, they’re not. It’s just that they’re both different from everyone else in the small town of Elizabethtown, Kentucky: Mo’s family is from Jordan, and in this small redneck town, everyone secretly thinks he’s an Iraqi terrorist; Annie is fragile, and has been since her older sister disappeared, leaving her family broken and her life in shambles. And they’re so not more than friends because Mo has been crushing on that super hot cheerleader at school (whom he has no chances with), while Annie starts to take notice of a cute guy at her new summer job. But Mo and Annie will always have each other – or so they thought, until Mo’s father loses his job and informs Mo that they’re moving back to Jordan. Mo’s upset because he’s losing his chances of playing basketball, going to Harvard, and staying with Annie, but Annie comes up with a not-so-brilliant plan: they can get married, and Mo can then legally stay in the U.S.! Woohoo! Why didn’t anyone else think of that? (BECAUSE IT’S ILLEGAL.) But because Mo and Annie really love each other (in the friends kind of way), they struggle through the disapproval of their parents and friends. However, as they get drawn deeper into the reality of their situation, Mo starts to understand the importance of family, while Annie comes to terms with what happened to her sister and falls deeper for Reed, the summer-job-guy.

Mo is kind of like the best guy friend ever. He’s outspoken, sarcastic, and knows how Annie’s feeling without her having to tell him. He also makes the best science-to-life analogy I’ve read to date:
Chemically speaking, if my life was a solvent, and misery the solute, saturation point has been reached.

Annie, on the other hand, constantly asks Mo how he feels. She’s always there for him, and she can be really stubborn when she wants something (like getting married to Mo so that he can stay). When she’s with Mo, they really click: they act immature together the way only best friends can act, and their conversations are always so fun and witty. Even after they get married and Annie confesses that she’s seeing Reed, Mo and Annie are still… well, Mo-and-Annie.
“So when do I get to meet him?” I ask.


“What? How is that even possible? As your husband, I demand to meet the dude you’re making out with.”

“And as your wife, I demand you let it go. [...]“
Aside from the humor, The Vow also touches on some very serious issues, and there are layers upon layers of injustice that just makes me want to give up on society, because the situations are very realistic. From the discrimination that Mo faces, to the truth behind the disappearance of Annie’s sister and the family issues that arise from immigrating to a new country or from tragedies within a family, these are situations that someone somewhere faces everyday. And I really think that Annie’s mother put it best:
“You’re not fine. And adults don’t ride skateboards to the grocery store. You’re kids playing some kind of grown-up married-person game, and at some point you’re going to realize there’s a lot more to marriage than skating around and whatever else you two do together.”
It’s not easy being kids (or “young adults”, since Mo is seventeen and Annie is eighteen) in a grown-up world, because they don’t want to confront reality, and they think anything is possible. Mo and Annie get totally shut down as they realize that everything and everyone is against them. (Cue my inevitable drowning… womp womp.) It also doesn’t help that the new guy that Annie falls for, Reed, is a chef-in-training and paints as a hobby. Obviously Mo can’t win against someone who can make good food! Arghh, the inevitable!

But anyway, I want to touch on the immigration aspect of the story, since that’s what The Vow is built on, and it’s also what I could relate to the most. Moving to a new place or a new country is hard, and it really depressed me to see Mo, who has finally been “Americanized” after being bullied when he first came to the U.S., faced with the possibility of having to move back to Jordan, where he’d be scorned for being more American than he should be. This cultural inability to fit in during immigration is an ongoing issue, even with the increasing “melting pot” and “mixing bowl” views. It’s different from fitting in socially because it entails a lot of logistics – the paperwork, customs, and the whole shebang. (And I’m bitter about this because I just ran into a paperwork issue earlier this week. Hrrmph.)

Martinez was able to spin all these different elements into The Vow, and I applaud her for making each issue just as important as the next. Her artful wordplay in linking the alternating chapters of Mo and Annie’s first-person narratives also made me giddy because it was just so good! But this kind of story is too realistic for me, and I feel depressed and angry at the world after reading it; I usually like books where I can escape from reality (yeah, I don’t know why I read realistic fiction either). The ending was obvious to me, but if it’s not obvious for you, here’s a spoiler gif in case you want to peek.

If you want something happy and light, The Vow is definitely not it. But if you’re in the mood to sit down for some serious feels about The Strongest Friendship Ever and Why Being International Sucks, I would encourage you to give The Vow a go.

Paper Breathers (Book Reviews & Discussions)
Profile Image for Kailey (Kathryn is looking for me).
309 reviews45 followers
June 20, 2017
I really enjoyed this book, and I'm not complaining at all about how it ended- I thought it had the best ending it should have, but I wish there was more of the aftermath. I would've liked to see more of what happends after where the book ended, with their families, with Bryce and Reed, just more in general would have been nice, but the ending as-is was fitting.

I'm almost feeling like Mo and Annie had no idea what they were getting into, what the true ramifications of what they did would mean, so as readers we don't get to find out what the extent of that is either because the characters themselves don't understand it's true length. I'd still like a sequel book. I think if there was one, a sequel to The Vow would have much of the same type of feel to it that After You by Jojo Moyes did; it would have to go in a different direction, but would satisfactorily wrap up loose ends, adding a bit more depth to the aftermath that was just a bit too big to go into in the same book as the tragedy.
Profile Image for Pallavi.
34 reviews1 follower
January 25, 2022
It actually took me a day to realise that I actually didn’t like the book. To be precise I didn’t like the ending. It was chugging along just fine and suddenly Annie decided that she couldn’t do it anymore and Mo had to go back to Jordan. It’s not that I necessarily wanted Mo and Annie to end up together; I understand that two friends can remain just that, friends. But why couldn’t the author have explored a bit more, and found another solution for Mo. Or atleast shown that they were actively looking for other solutions. Instead the book just abruptly came to an end. I was disappointed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Nazik Amanova.
23 reviews
April 11, 2022
It was a really lackluster plot. It had the potential to be incredible! There is a lot of action going on, but the ideas are disorganized, so instead of progressing or the tale growing, it all comes to a halt. Annie, the main protagonist, has some good character development. Finally, the only reason I gave it a two-star rating instead of one was because of the humor...the jokes were amusing. That's exactly what it is. It's a gigantic joke. (I mean no disrespect to the author; you undoubtedly have some impressive credentials.)
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