Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

save yourselfSave Yourself by Kelly Braffet

Crown, May 2014

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

I was interested in Save Yourself both because it’s described as suspense fiction, because it’s by a woman, and because I need to read some books set in different states of the United States if I’m to make any headway in the Reading USA Fiction Challenge this year.

The story takes place in the small town of Ratchetsburg, Pennsylvania, within driving distance of Pittsburgh, and it centers on Patrick Cusimano, an underemployed depressed man in his mid-twenties as well as Verna Elshere, a high school student entering public school for the first time after being homeschooled by very religious parents. Both main characters are in difficult positions: Patrick is ostracized because his father killed a small child while driving drunk and he is the one who called the police 19 hours after the accident, and Verna is relentlessly bullied at school because of her father’s strong stance on abstinence-only sex education, a fight he took to the school board the year before this book takes place.

Action-wise, this doesn’t feel like what I would call a thriller: there is quite a bit of violence and brutality, but it’s not a racing plot: it simmers mostly, I would say. I somehow didn’t mind the pace of the plot because Braffet is quite good at getting me to care for his characters, all of whom are damaged people dealing with big issues. It is a tough read in spots– probably the toughest book I’ve read this year, but thankfully, there is some hope in the ending. If you are in the mood for a tough book, this one is a rewarding read.

Other reviews appear in Jenn’s Bookshelves and Reactions to Reading.

13 thoughts on “Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

  1. Rebecca – This sounds like one of those books that are difficult to read but worth it if one’s ready for a novel like that. I’ll have to put it on my ‘when the time is right’ list. Thanks as ever for the thoughtful review.

    • You’re welcome, Margot. I put off watching certain movies for the same reason you’re putting off this book: you have to be in the right place to be able to read/watch these works. It’s not a trigger-warning, exactly, but it’s a bit more descriptive than jacket copy can be. Happy 4th of July to you!

  2. Thanks for these notes. This does indeed sound like a fairly challenging novel. Hm. On the other hand, I usually quite like fairly challenging novels.



    Hm again . . .

  3. Agree Rebecca – it’s not a thriller by any definition. But it is a good read despite (or because of)the difficult subject matter. Can’t exactly say it’s enjoyable but definitely worth reading.

    • It’s definitely hard to categorize without giving away too much of the story, but I will say that the additional materials at the end of this paperback edition were a bit too on the nose. As soon as I saw that one of the recommended reads was Columbine by Dave Cullen, the whole plot was clear.

  4. You do a good job of getting me interested in this book. It sounds different and I like that. I will put it on my “look for at the book sale” list. It probably won’t be there for a while, but when it shows up, I will be ready for it.

  5. I agree with Tracy, your review is excellent. I don’t mind “different” on occasion. Thanks for the review.

    • Hope you enjoy it when you’re ready for something contemporary, Keishon. On the classics front, I’m trying to get to a book from 1939 for Rich’s challenge: variety is good. Happy reading.

      • What did you find to read for the classics challenge? I decided on Raymond Chandler. Posting late comment because I just back from vacation. It was lovely to get away. Take care Rebecca.

  6. Glad you had a good vacation, Keishon: I hope it was relaxing!

    I requested a couple less-famous books for the 1939 challenge through the statewide ILL program, but I misplaced my list of what they were. They really should be arriving any time, and if they don’t I’m reading Rebecca by duMaurier, for obvious reasons 🙂

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