So I say it in my head: This is happiness.”
Sometimes saving a life is only the start of the story…
It’s nearly midnight on the eve of the millennium when eighteen-year-old Joel’s heart stops. A school friend, Kerry, performs CPR for eighteen exhausting minutes, ultimately saving Joel’s life, while her best friend Tim freezes, unable to help.
That moment of life and death changes the course of all three lives over the next two decades: each time Kerry, Joel and Tim believe they’ve found love, discovered their vocation, or simply moved on, their lives collide again.
. . . Because bravery isn’t just about life or death decisions; it’s also about how to keep on living afterwards.
How to Save a Life is not a self-help medical instruction manual as the title may suggest. It is, in fact a story of three teenagers who, caught in the time-space of eighteen life-changing minutes, find themselves tied to it for the next twenty years.
At the centre of this complicated puzzle stands Kerry Smith – an aspiring doctor with big dreams. Beside her is Tim Palmer – Kerry’s childhood friend and neighbour, and fellow medical aspirant. Finally, there is Joel Greenaway – the newest recruit for a football apprenticeship with the Dolphins F.C. who finds the course of his professional career derailed when he is forced to come to terms with an irreversible heart condition.
I was deeply engrossed in how the story began and the events folded into one another. Kerry, Tim and Joel are in the same school but don’t run in the same circles. Kerry nurses a secret crush on Joel while unsure of her feelings for Tim.
The book is narrated by these three key characters and gradually peels away the accumulated layers of feelings buried underneath. Kerry is stuck between two people and allows her life to take shape around them, disregarding her own dreams. I found the naivety and haste in making decisions on the part of all three troubling. Then again, not all decisions are perfect and it is their path towards growth that is the heart of this novel.
An interesting addition to the book is the ‘Guide to the Chain of Survival’, broken down into four parts and woven into the narrative. This guide lists the signs for recognising cardiac distress and the steps one should take to save the patient’s life. While it may appear to be both educational and instructional, it eventually leads to being an inherent part of the story. I thought the author’s idea of imparting this valuable piece of information in such a way ensures the lay person will retain the knowledge and hopefully be able to use in case of an emergency.
A sweeping coming-of-age romance, this is replete with drama, reality, and plenty of heart-stopping moments to keep the pages turning.
Book 29 of 2021.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟1/2.
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