Published by Allen & Unwin on 1 November 2013
Genres: Adult Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
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When Patrick Cusimano's alcoholic father kills a child in a hit-and-run, Patrick is faced with a terrible choice: turn his father in - destroying what's left of his family in the process - or keep quiet. But can Patrick's brother, Mike, live with the choice that was made that night? Layla Elshere was once a poster-girl for purity. But when her evangelical father forces her to spearhead a campaign against her school, it compels her to question everything she's ever known. Now Layla is doing all she can to obliterate her past. Verna adores her older sister but as events begin to spiral, Verna must make the hardest choice possible; save the person she loves most in the world - or save herself.
Save Yourself is a stunning novel about the power struggles and divided loyalties of adolescence and about the way in which one terrible decision can alter the whole course of your life.
Ok, so if you read the jacket blurb on this book it sounds like nothing much happens. I will try to sum it up without giving too much away.
Patrick turns his alcoholic father in to the police after he is involved in a hit and run, killing a young child. A few months on Patrick is still living in his father’s house with his brother, Mike, and Mike’s girlfriend Caro. He is by all accounts a loser and the town pariah due to his unfortunate family connection.
Then we meet Vera, a sheltered and naïve schoolgirl who is horribly bullied due to the sins of her family too (notice a pattern here?). She finds solace and comfort in a group of strange outcasts.
What connects them is Layla, Vera’s Goth sister who takes an unhealthy interest in Patrick and basically stalks him.
The lives of all these characters start to intertwine dangerously and it all leads up to a very dark and thrilling climax.
The problem is that the book takes a little too long to get there. I was half way through and was still asking, “ok, so where is this going?” I think author may lose a few readers because of this. There seems to lack direction until the end. Having said that, the characters do pull you in and you want to find out what happens to them.
I don’t think the title of the book does it justice either. After reading it I am still trying to figure out how ‘save yourself’ comes into the plot. None of the characters ‘save themselves’; in the end they are all rather selfless and sacrificial.
A large focus in the book is bullying and the affects of trying to fit into a group. It made me really grateful that I was not in high school during the camera phone and social media era. I shudder to think that what happens in the book actually takes place in reality.
Another factor I found interesting was the cult-like mentality of the ‘Goth group’. Kelly Braffet offers us some fascinating and chilling insights into the nature of group peer pressure and abuse.
Though the beginning is slow paced, the last 100 pages had me hooked so I’d say it’s worth a read.
RRP AU$24.99 as at 30/09/2013