The basics: Save Yourself is the story of two sets of siblings: Patrick and Mike Cusimano are still reeling from their father's arrest and conviction for killing a child while driving drunk. They live in their father's house, along with Mike's girlfriend, Caro. Across Ratchetsberg, a tiny town outside Pittsburgh, Layla Elshere, the oldest daughter of a local church leader has turned Goth and tries to befriend Patrick because of what his father did. Her little sister, Verna, begins high school and is tormented.
My thoughts: Save Yourself is filled with both unlikable characters and characters making self-destructive, yet understandable, decisions. Braffet shifts the narration among the main characters beautifully, and I welcomed the opportunity to better understand these complicated, well-developed characters. As I read, I always had the sense that anything could happen and it would work with these characters and their choices. As a reader, I love to place my entire trust in an author. The characters and their world were so well-formed, and their behavior was so often reckless, I read with a sense of foreboding. There's an eeriness to this novel I adored.
Favorite passage: "She often prayed for the strength to stop eavesdropping, but God never gave it to her. Maybe because the things she learned left her less baffled by the mysteries around her."
The verdict: Save Yourself is a captivating character-driven novel. Braffet is a brave and bold storyteller, and both are on full display in her latest novel.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 320 pages
Publication date: August 6, 2013
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