Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet
Published by: Crown
Published on: August 6, 2013
Page Count: 320
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher in order to participate in the blog tour
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Summary from the Publisher:
Patrick Cusimano’s life can’t get much worse. His father is in jail, he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store, and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has pushed their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can’t shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing Patrick to his breaking point.
Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school. She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, and not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents. Layla’s bad-girl rep casts a shadow too heavy for Verna to bear alone, so she falls in with her sister’s tribe of outcasts. But their world is far darker than she ever imagined…
Unless Patrick, Layla, Caro, and Verna can forge their own twisted paths to peace—with themselves, with each other—then they’re stuck on a dangerous collision course where the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Today it is my great pleasure to be Kelly Braffet’s host on her TLC Book Tour. This tour is to celebrate her novel, Save Yourself.
I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours. They always have great books and authors on tour. Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.
Imagine that your mother is dead and your father, a drunk, has come home having a breakdown. You go out into the garage and witness the evidence of the hit and run accident that has taken the life of a young boy. Now imagine calling the police on your father despite your older brother’s objections. That is how Save Yourself begins and it will suck you in the same way it did me. I found it impossible to turn away from this story of Patrick, a young man who is trying with great difficulty to move on from what his father has done. It only gets worse as Verna Elshere, a young local teenager from a fundamentalist church group, makes an appearance. What Patrick and Verna have in common is Layla, Verna’s older, seemingly more worldly and mature sister. Verna looks to Layla to save her or to at least help her to survive high school. Patrick looks to Layla for a distraction from the mess he’s making in his own house. They both soon learn that Layla is more like quick sand than salvation.
Verna broke my heart. Of all of the characters, she was the innocent one caught in the politics of others, both in the greater community and within her high school. I remembered my own simultaneous teenage struggles to blend in to the background and to find a place where I belonged. As her story begins to unfold I wanted to grab her and tell her that life gets better, but there came a time when I could no longer be so sure. Technological advances, for all the ways they make modern life better, open up a whole new avenue of torment for those caught in the sights of emotionally charged and morally challenged teenagers. Verna made me fear for my own daughters as they prepare to leave elementary school and head toward junior high.
Save Yourself was an experience to read. It was dark and headed only to darker places from the very beginning. At the same time, the story didn’t feel forced or overly earnest. The way that Braffet crafted the story felt organic and I had no desire to do anything but keep reading. The ending packs a punch and I stayed up reading well past midnight until I had finished. Knowing how wrecked I would be in the morning, I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up even longer staring at the ceiling thinking the story through and praying for my daughters who were at that very moment sleeping peacefully, blissfully unaware of what is to come.
While the subject matter may be heavier than some people prefer, I highly recommend this book. Both the writing and the story surpassed my expectations. While Save Yourself may have not been easy to read, it read quickly. It is a perfect choice for book clubs because there are so many plot points and issues to discuss. It would also be an excellent book for those times when you really want to get lost in what you’re reading. Don’t go looking for a neat and tidy ending. Life is messy and you will appreciate how Kelly Braffet respects her characters and her readers too much to provide a fantasy.
Kelly Braffet’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
You’re read what I think about Save Yourself. Now check out the other stops on this tour.