SAVE YOURSELF has the narrative flair of Gillian Flynn and Adam Ross, the scruffy appeal of Donald Ray Pollock, and the addictiveness of Breaking Bad.
Patrick Cusimano is in a bad way. His father is in jail, he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store, and his brother's girlfriend, Caro, has taken their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can't quite 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 him 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, not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents: Layla's bad-girl rep proves to be too huge a shadow for Verna, so she falls in with her sister's circle of outcasts and misfits whose world is far darker than she ever imagined.
Kelly Braffet's characters, indelibly portrayed and richly varied, are all on their own twisted paths to finding peace. The result is a novel of unnerving power-darkly compelling, addictively written, and shockingly honest.
Sometimes when we are unaware of the people of the around us, we don’t realize the impact they will have on our lives when we first meet. They could be the person that is the cause of your downfall by creating so much pain, or the best friend you could ever have to trust, or be the part of your life you didn’t know you were missing until you found them. Any interaction with a person could change the course of your life.
That is what this book is about, learning that the people in your life may be more important than you initially thought, and that meeting new people can change your life. Braffet does a wonderful job of creating characters that are broken and lost, that you aren't even sure who the main character is. But all their stories intertwine, and you can’t help but feel happy for them when they get on the right path.
Reviewed by Mercedes Olivas
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 8/6/2013