Book Review – How to Save a Life by Emma Scott

by Maryse on February 10, 2016 · 12 comments

in My Book Reviews

How to Save a Life

Dear fellow readers… read this book! :D

- Your reading buddy, Maryse.

Another HUGE winning read from an author that I recently discovered and adore with all of my book-loving heart! WOW!!!! She can WRITE!!! She tells a most beautiful, sometimes harrowing, sometimes heart-wrenching, yet absolutely enlightening love story, and boy can she end one, too!

Michelle: Omg I one clicked and I can’t put it down! My heart hurts!

It’s all in the life journey with this one. From the personal back stories (the events, memories and childhood perceptions, long-standing guilt and shame that make the characters who they are when we meet them), to the characters meeting and merging the very issues that keep them from truly connecting with anyone else, this one is all about feeling completely unloved, unsafe, and then finding home, once and for all. Even if “home” is just ONE person… no matter where they may be.

And while the genre mentions “paranormal” it’s not like the paranormal that we’re used to. At all. Perhaps a “hint” of it, since one of the characters randomly dreams of things that become (or were) real. Memories… if you will. Just hints of an ability to predict… *something* (or know something from the past) but there’s no real background to what that kind of sight is, or it being a “power” or anything like that.

Cheryl: I finished How to Save a Life. One of the most original stories I have ever read. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. It was a touching, well-written, weird- in a paranormal kinda way, heartbreaking story of never giving up on love. I would have loved a longer ending. Now my heart and gut need something funny & lighthearted.

Both characters are human, and there’s no forces to battle other than other evilish humans that have kept the two main characters down, throughout their lives apart… and together.

Spanning from high school, to “new adulthood”, their story will lead you on a journey of bullying, despondence, friendship, love, and absolute unfairness. And then back again, as adults. You’ll see.

So what’s it about?

Jo is the new girl in town (orphaned, and now living with her truck-driving uncle). She’s mostly always alone, due to him being on the road so much,

I was the ultimate latch-key kid. If any of the schools I’d been bounced around to had known how much time I spent alone, they’d haul me in for truancy. Gerry would get in trouble for child neglect. But I never let on my situation to anyone. Why would I?

and she’s forged her own way, and her own rules, after having survived her other abusive monster of an uncle throughout her childhood.

When it came out what Uncle Jasper had done to me when I was thirteen, it had been like a bomb dropped into their make-believe, happy crappy world. My mother ended her life, Jasper went to jail, and the Clark clan never forgave me for any of it. And my dad wasn’t there to defend me. Or protect me from his sicko brother in the first place.

Once loved, but now having lost everyone, she feels mostly alone. And she tries to feel nothing, portraying a total “emo” aura, and starting her own “bad-girl” rumors in school. She chooses her life and her friends. Not them.

I mentally prepped for my first day at Wilson High School (population: 311), ready to take on the mantle of class slut or freak. Turned out ‘slut’ was available, but the title of ‘freak’ already belonged to someone else.

And then she meets Evan, a foster kid (recently adopted and hated by his own “brothers”). He’s got the “popular kid” good looks (she can’t believe he’s not sitting at the jocks table), but soon realizes he’s reclusive boy that everyone shuns in school. And she’s surprised when she realizes he’s not in the least bit “emo” (as she imagined from the rumors of him being a “freak”).


Impossible, I thought, this guy could possibly be the same notorious weirdo the school populace couldn’t shut up about. I would have cast him as the quarterback for the Wilson Wildcats. Or captain of the local 4H. Class president. This guy was Prom King, not Freakshow.

Talking to him is social suicide,

It just didn’t make sense he was cast adrift from the islands of safety known in high school cafeterias all across the country as the lunch tables. Evan had no island. Even the geeks shunned him. My people, the misfits, shunned him. If anyone was going to take him under their wing, it should be us, if for no other reason than to give the finger to everyone else. But Marnie warned me I’d be S.O.L. to throw him a life preserver.

I wondered idly if it were worth it.

and NOBODY wants anything to do with him.

“Do not go there,” Adam said. “Evan Salinger is yummy, I will give him that. A strong, silent type. But then you get in his space…” He shivered dramatically.

“He’s hot, I’ll admit,” Marnie agreed, “if a little white-bread for my tastes, but there’s something…off about Evan.”

“Aren’t we all?” I muttered.

Having been bullied since a “freak-out” incident in class, he’s resilient nonetheless. Of course he wants love, and friendship and respect. He’s GOOD.

I don’t know how or why I could possibly know this at first glance, but to me Evan looked like he’d spill the deepest secrets of his heart to the first person to show him any kindness.

He’s sort of beautiful, I thought.

But he keeps his head down and focuses on his future as best as he can. He’s getting out of there!

And Jo doesn’t care one iota that he’s not to be approached. She can FEEL his energy and he’s calling to her.

A sense of warmth fell over me, a ray of sunlight from the window maybe. Except that I wasn’t sitting near a window. I glanced at Evan Salinger. He wasn’t looking at me; his head was down, eyes on his book, but even so. It was him. I could feel him, if that makes any sense. Which it doesn’t. I know it doesn’t, and I knew it then. But it felt like Evan Salinger was observing me without looking.

“Stop that,” I whispered.

“Sorry,” he whispered back immediately. He wasn’t confused by my request. He’d known what I meant, which was f**king odd since I hadn’t known what I meant. And then it was as if something got shut off. A beam of light dimmed by a passing cloud. I shivered, and that feeling of Evan’s attention on me was gone.

Okay, so that was weird.

And they find themselves… in each other.

I went to bed that night and for the first time in my teenage life, I fell asleep like a normal girl: not remembering tearing skin or bathtub suicides, but thinking dreamily of her first kiss with a boy she liked.

If there was never anything more between Evan and I, if the ground swallowed him up or if Gerry moved us the next day, at least I had those minutes in my bed when I felt nothing was wrong with me. When I felt beautiful and important.

I drifted between awake and asleep.


Not on air, but on water.

OMG the MAGIC of them both!!! Not “woo-wooooo” magic, so much as… soulmate magic? They were just… THEM. Together. It was always supposed to be. And I LOVED THAT! I  totally get the book title. They saved each other.

The sweet friendship is just amazing (almost gave me that Twilight feel – because of Evan’s whole enigma quality – and the fact that they publicly become friends, to everyone’s shock). I was getting butterflies every time he was in her vicinity. The air was electric.

I’ll admit that I preferred the “feel” of the first half of the book, to the second half. Surprising, ’cause the first half is full on “mature YA” (in high school, no less!!!), but there was just something about that energy, that had me hooked.  I was addicted to it. Couldn’t put it down and was devouring the bullied-boy/emo-girl young love and friendship. They needed each other so badly, and had everything going against them, and I was biting my lip in anticipation.

Thanks to Evan, I knew what love was. This time it wasn’t grayed out and faded like an old memory. It was fresh and new.

And I stupidly thought I would feel this way forever.

And while I loved the second half of the book anyway (I mean come on!! This is Emma Scott, we’re talking about), that “magic” was dampened. No no…. not completely gone, but we were so “overrun” with this new life-twist… that the sweet connection that they had (and STILL HAD) was not something we were indulging in, as much. We were too busy, at that point. ;) But boy was it exciting!

Because that’s when the story really starts. Life as ADULTS, promises made, promises kept, and the troubles those promises cause. But!! As Andrew Carnegie said:

“Anything in life worth having is worth working for.”

And this is one of those! Friendship, against all odds, and the hits just keep coming for them both. But they’re resourceful, and when push comes to shove, they are forced on a wild ride. Them against the world and against time, and we get to ride on that journey with ‘em!

So fun! This story enchanted me, held me in its protective arms (even through the scary parts) while I cheered for them right to the very end!!

Hold your breath

I will mark the minutes

And guard your peace…

4.5 stars!

P.S. Thank you to the author for sending me this review copy! It was exciting, exhilarating and inspiring!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne February 10, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Great review Maryse! I can’t wait to read this book! Love Emma Scott!

Maryse February 10, 2016 at 9:14 PM

ME TOO!!!! She’s so eloquent, and emotional and real. LOVE HER!

lise February 10, 2016 at 9:41 PM

Wonderful review!
I’m reading this right now and loving the FEEL so much.

Theresa February 10, 2016 at 10:09 PM

Can’t wait- finishing the Page boys and then Th Lie – Brig’s story. I am so behind

Emma Scott February 10, 2016 at 10:30 PM

Maryse!!! What an amazing, detailed, thoughtful review, beautiful review! I’m so thrilled you liked it and I’m so grateful for your kind words! <3

Lisa February 11, 2016 at 3:27 AM

Next on my list….I can’t wait. Have loved every book Emma Scott has written. AND they have all stayed with me which is the true test when reading sooooo many books.

Teri February 11, 2016 at 5:47 AM

Ok…I’ve been waiting for your review Maryse. Have heard a lot about this book. I’m looking forward to reading it! I’ve never read this author before.

Kandra February 11, 2016 at 12:16 PM

Ahhh I think the next book I’ll start is one from this author – haven’t read her yet :)

Audrey Rodriguez February 11, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Is there any steam to this? Or is it just about teenagers?

Lisa February 11, 2016 at 4:47 PM

Kandra get onboard. Her books are wonderful.
And Audrey there is slow build and chemistry to burn in Rush. Read it you wont be disappointed. Also the novella is amazing.

Cheryl February 11, 2016 at 9:54 PM

Exactly Maryse!!

Maryse February 12, 2016 at 11:21 AM

Audrey, it has some steam… the first part is about teenagers (when they first meet) but it moves into them as adults… I hope that helps!

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