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.