Review: Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

sy_400x608sTitle: Save Yourself
Author: Kelly Braffet
Publisher: Crown
Page Count: 310
Format: Uncorrected Proof
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Source: Read It Forward
Rating: Four-stars

Book Summary: 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.

My Review: I received a copy of this book from Read It Forward.

When I began reading Save Yourself I knew I was in for a bumpy ride. It was like an emotional roller coaster where you get in line knowing full well you’re about to go on a wild ride. The first half of the novel is the moment when you’re getting strapped into the train and begin trudging up the lift; your body is filled with a dull excitement mixed with a little anxiety with what you’re about to get yourself into.

When you make it over the first hill, you’re relieved that you made it only to realize that there are several more down the path. You can’t stop or turn back now, so you continue on. The further along you read the book you realize, almost too late, that the hills have been getting bigger and bigger and before you know it you’re finding yourself climbing an enormous mountain. When you reach the top, you can see everything: the slow build-up of hills that has led you to this moment and the massive fall you’re about to take.

For those couple of seconds that you linger at the top, you think maybe the fall won’t be so bad; or maybe you just want to descend so that it’ll be over already. Finally, the car begins to dip and whether or not you’re ready, you’re plunged into the last chapters of the book. But as quickly as it started, it’s already over and you’re pulling into the station and you’re left wondering what just happened.

Braffet’s novel starts off in a bad place and only goes downhill from there. Every time you think things will change, that the people in the book will change, everything takes another dark turn.  That sense of dread builds and builds until you realize that every decision the characters have made have been leading up to a horrible result. In the end, the characters have to face their choices, whether good or bad.

The book is broken up between three voices: Patrick Cusimano, the son of an alcoholic father who is in prison for a hit and run; Verna Elshere, the gothic daughter of two “crazy” Christian parents; and Caro, Patrick’s brother’s girlfriend who he’s secretly in love with. Braffet shows us the dark side of her characters and lets you simmer in it like a lobster in a pot that has only begun to boil.

The novel lets you feel the desolation right off the bat. Each character is simply going through the motions when it comes to life, although some are better at pretending than others. But Braffet makes her characters likable despite their flaws and trust me, there are a lot. Some of these mistakes shouldn’t be forgivable and yet I found myself wanting to do just that. I was so easily roped into the story that it made Save Yourself a book I didn’t want to put down.

Final Thoughts: Save Yourself is a gritty and dark tale that will leave you bleary-eyed and stunned. If you love a good, dark thriller, then I highly recommend you pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed.

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