Save Yourself is about three disaffected characters dealing with the collateral damage caused by their parents’ actions whose stories intersect in a suburb outside of Pittsburgh.
Patrick’s mother passes away when he was young leaving his alcoholic father to raise him and his older brother Mike. After an evening spent at the bar, his father runs over and kills a young boy on his way home. When Patrick learns about the incident and sees the evidence on the car, he calls the police to turn his father in much to Mike’s dismay and consternation that lingers under the surface as an unspoken rift.
Caro is overwhelmed by the burden of caring for a schizophrenic mother whose condition progressively deteriorates as she abandons her to lead a peripatetic life working in assorted restaurants as a waitress and living out of her car. After meeting Mike, she agrees to move in with him and Patrick in the hope of bringing some semblance of stability to her life.
Verna is a high school freshman who tries her best not to call attention to herself. Her parents established a ministry in which her father serves as pastor. When her older sister Layla comes home with a biology textbook that contains material dealing with sexual education, her parents mount an aggressive campaign to oust a popular teacher. Verna’s classmate is the niece of the fired teacher and as retribution bullies and tortures her to no end.
Written in third person alternating POVs, Kelly Braffet has an uncanny knack for portraying disconnected members of society who through no fault of their own are dealt a terrible hand and easily fall through the cracks. Her characters manage to muddle through with resignation and an admirable grace. The only disappointment is the climactic scene takes a sudden town into Crazytown that seems as if it belonged in a different story for what was otherwise an excellent novel. Nonetheless, Save Yourself is worth the read.
Please note that I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.