The Vow

( 5 )


When two teens with complex motives plan to marry, their friendship is put to the ultimate test in this compelling novel from the author of Virtuosity.

Mo and Annie are just friends. Close friends, best friends, friends who love each other more than anyone else in the world—but just friends. No matter what anyone thinks, there’s simply no romance between them.

Then the summer before senior year Mo’s father loses his job—and his work visa. Even ...

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The Vow

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When two teens with complex motives plan to marry, their friendship is put to the ultimate test in this compelling novel from the author of Virtuosity.

Mo and Annie are just friends. Close friends, best friends, friends who love each other more than anyone else in the world—but just friends. No matter what anyone thinks, there’s simply no romance between them.

Then the summer before senior year Mo’s father loses his job—and his work visa. Even though 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 he’s terrified to return to a world where he no longer belongs.

So Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie: that they are in love. Mo agrees that marrying Annie is the only way he can stay, and Annie is desperate to help her friend. But what happens next may be enough to rip their relationship apart forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Intriguing but neglected subplots aren’t enough to right Martinez’s (The Space Between Us) imbalanced novel. Studious Mo and artistic Annie, who alternate narrator duties, have been best friends for seven years, when Annie’s sister’s murder and Mo’s arrival from Jordan to an Iraq War–shy Kentucky made them both outcasts. Just before their senior year, Mo’s plans for both the summer and his future are jeopardized when his family suddenly has to return to Jordan. Although Mo and Annie are both smart and resourceful, they immediately decide that the only way to keep Mo in the U.S. is to get married. To keep their relationship believable, the couple must lie to their families, Annie’s new boyfriend, and the entire town. The ensuing complications surrounding the teens’ marriage and the technicalities of immigration law swallow the more believable and accessible storylines of Annie’s family’s grief, Mo’s complex relationship toward his family and two countries, the everyday xenophobia and prejudice he witnesses, and the pair’s changing friendship as they move into adulthood. Ages 14–up. Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency. (Oct.)
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Anna Foote
Annie and Mo have been best friends ever since she saved him from horrible embarrassment on an elementary school field trip. But everyone finds it hard to believe that a girl and a guy can be such good friends without being . . . more. Now, just before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job and his work visa. Mr. Hussein intends to move the family back to Jordan, to a home Mo barely knows and hardly understands. Annie comes up with a plan to keep Mo in the States: if they get married, Mo can legally stay and finish his senior year then apply for a student visa for college. After years of telling the truth, the two decide to lie about being in love, which works well for them both, until Annie really starts falling in love . . . with someone else. The Vow is a well-written novel, with more complexity than the average teen love story. Annie tries to understand her older sister’s death—and life—by working the same summer job that her sister had when she was murdered. Mo must let his beloved younger sister go to Jordan, into a life far more restricted than the one she lives in the United States. And Annie and Mo have intense concerns about their marriage, which might just be a felony according to the federal government. This well-rounded story will be satisfying to fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Miranda Kenneally. Reviewer: Anna Foote; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Mo and Annie have been friends since fifth grade. Living in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, hasn't been easy for Mo (aka Mohammed Ibrahim Hussein), who has battled racism for years, or for Annie, who is still coping with her older sister's kidnapping and murder. The pair have found solace from the outside world in each other. About to begin their junior year, the teens find out that Mo's family is in danger of being deported back to Jordan because of his father's recent unemployment. In order to keep her best friend in the U.S., Annie decides to marry him. They keep it a secret as long as they can, but things blow up in their faces. Through this heartfelt, yet misguided, ploy, they sacrifice the best of themselves—including Annie's chance at happiness with a new boy, Reed. Told in alternating chapters, the story seamlessly switches points of view without interrupting the fast pace. This is a novel about family, friendship, love, and sacrifice that will have readers rooting for the narrators as they try to save their relationship and navigate through very real and current issues.—Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Two privileged Kentucky teens concoct a sham marriage to prevent one's deportation, generating fallout neither is prepared to cope with. Mo (short for Mohammed), 17, and Annie, 18, have been platonic best friends since she rescued the newly arrived immigrant from ridicule in fifth grade, and in turn, he coaxed Annie, socially immobilized by her sister's death, back into the world. Mo's summer plans include basketball camp and eventually Harvard or Yale, Annie's, a summer job her sister once held, then art school. Both are devastated when Mo's father is laid off and must take his family back to Jordan. Annie talks Mo into marriage though they're warned of potentially grim legal consequences. Narrating alternating chapters, Mo and Annie are rounded, believable and sympathetic; yet to serve the plot, they must behave in ways that make little sense. Both are careful and observant, unlikely to jump off a bridge without at least looking over the edge first. An odd narrative tension results, as if the characters would much rather do something else. Looming over the story is the urgent, hot-button issue of U.S. teens raised with American identities but lacking legal status. For Mo, deportation means returning to his wealthy family in Jordan and applying for a student visa for an Ivy League education--lowering the stakes from potentially devastating to merely inconvenient. Strong characters resist but can't overcome a frustratingly unrealistic plot. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
It is the summer before senior year. What should be the best summer vacation turns into an intense experience for best friends Mo (Mohammed) and Annie. Annie has just taken a job at the custard shop her sister worked at, before her sister's untimely death; Mo's father just lost his job, meaning his family must return to Jordan. Nothing can come between the two, since Annie befriended Mo on his first day of school seven years ago. They do not know how to live without each other, and will come undone if they are separated. Annie comes up with a plan to keep Mo in the States, though his family returns to the Middle East. Her plan may be illegal, but she is willing to risk her future to follow through. However, she neglected one thing: what would make her heart happy. Eventually the drama resolves and she is able to realize her heart's desire, and her love for Reed: a co-worker at the custard shop, yet we never know for sure. Each chapter is written as though Annie or Mo are speaking, the last sentence of one chapter weaving its way to the first sentence of the next. While seeming clever in the beginning, this theme loses its novelty midway, and almost seems to be somewhat of an effort for the author to make it work. Martinez's characters are well developed and extremely relate-able, even with all their moods. Readers will identify with Annie, Mo and just about everyone in this story. The pace is quite good and can hold one's interest, however the ending seems rather abrupt. There are twenty-eight chapters to build relationships—and only one final chapter that dissolves into leaving readers questioning what happened—and what will happen next. Perhaps this is a smart move to ensure a sequel, but if not, the ending feels a bit deceptive. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442458642
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 721,849
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Martinez lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, her two children, and her violin. She spends her days writing, running, and teaching her children to be music lovers. She is the author of Virtuosity, The Space Between Us, and The Vow. Visit her at

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2014

    Although The Vow is not exactly an edge-of-your-chair, adrenalin

    Although The Vow is not exactly an edge-of-your-chair, adrenalin rush inducing read, I found myself unable to put it down. Mo doesn't want to return to Jordan, and Annie is determined to help him remain in America. For them to marry and hence, secure immigration for Mo, seems to be a very obvious answer to the problem. Only, did Annie and Mo stop to consider questions like immigration fraud and the hazards of living together?

    The magic of this book is in the characters. Annie, a lonely girl, unable to move past her sister's disappearance, befriends an equally lonely and displaced Mo; the kind of person who puts everything into a friendship, is extremely loyal and will sacrifice everything to help a friend, Annie commits to helping Mo realize his dream of studying and living in America. All this at the most likely cost of her own chance at a real love interest. 

    Mo, on the other hand, is a bit less mature than Annie and, at times, even childish. Despite this he is, however, wonderfully funny. Mo's sharp wit and slightly acid-tongued dialogue often made me laugh out loud. The nail-biting suspense in this book happens when you know that Mo's smart mouth is going to get him into enormous trouble; something that happens with refreshing regularity.

    Then there is Reed, every girl's dream of a handsome, sweet natured guy. At first he seems rude but eventually he thaws to become a truly kind and, in the end, forgiving person.

    For those who love a good, tender romance with a healthy dash of the poignant, The Vow will more than satisfy you. Although it looks like there would be a love triangle between Annie, Mo and Reed, this fortunately doesn't happen in the true and very clichéd sense of the word.

    For a story that will warm your heart and often make you laugh, I recommend The Vow as a satisfying and fulfilling read. (Ellen Fritz)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2014



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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    There's no point to it

    Basically she leaves him at the end and there was no real plot to it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2013

    I found myself thinking constantly about this book as I was read

    I found myself thinking constantly about this book as I was reading. It is such a different concept for a YA novel. I loved the interaction between characters and their development. I have an 18 year old daughter and could definitely see the similarity in behaviors and what I though she might do in a similar situation. It definitely had me thinking.

    I felt that it ended abruptly however and would have liked to have some interaction between Mo and Reed. I think we should have seen them meet, it could have been a fun chapter. I also would have liked to see more of the resolve played out. Teens can definitely use some good examples of how to resolve situations instead of always getting into them and then having them just disappear.

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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I didn't really know what to expect going into this one. I'm a h

    I didn't really know what to expect going into this one. I'm a huge fan of Jessica Martinez, but even having read her two previous books, this one seemed like a big question mart. It's an interesting concept, and she held up beautifully. One of my favorite things about this book is how it's truly just two teenagers, in a situation where they are so clearly over their heads, where they just couldn't see all the problems inherent to this plan. It's painful, and the dual POV only upped the emotional aspect of it. I felt so much for both of them, but what stood out the most is how when I'm in one character's head, I'm siding with them, even if it means I'm not liking the other as much...until the POV shift, then I'm all for that other character. I so completely understood Mo and Annie, and I absolutely wanted what's best for them - except in this case, through the whole book, I had a hard time deciding what was best. To stay together, even if it means they've sort of lost their families? To be separated, lose that part of themselves, but especially for Mo, to be with their families? A mix of the two seemed impossible. Add to that the strong, distinct voices, and all the problems the pair faces, both individually and together, and this one is definitely a must read.

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