Patrick Cusimano, his brother Mike, and Mike’s girlfriend Caro live in the Cusimano family home, disturbingly connected to one another and indelibly marked by the dysfunction that led their father to drive drunk and kill a child. An act that resulted in his incarceration. Afterwards, their lives totter along haphazardly in a dark and dismal house that contains the detritus of their father’s pitiful life. They move like automatons in their routine and deadly lives, filled with an unrelenting sense of their betrayal to him and to each other.
Layla and Verna Elshere are the teen daughters of a man whose ministry rules his life. A man who cannot see beyond his disappointment in their choices and his frustration about his inability to change them. Layla’s Goth girl persona is her way of flaunting the path she has taken, and when Verna takes on some of her sister’s mannerisms and behaviors, even as she is also targeted by cruel classmates, she is soon free falling, caught up into the band of outcasts led by a young man named Justinian. She is bound to find an unimaginable darkness and an unexpected fear and pain that will drive her further away from hope and home.
Broken lives moving along a parallel path to nowhere. How will they all end up on a collision course that will change their lives forever? Who, if any of them, will still be standing at the end of the day?
Save Yourself: A Novel is a depressing tale of lives speeding off the rails, of emotions that control the choices of the characters, and the inevitable and unstoppable tragedy that will ensue. Four stars.