Rose McKenna enjoys a hard-won and nearly perfect life, if not quite the life she once imagined for herself. Her husband, Leo, is a loving stepfather to third-grader Melly, an adoring father to baby John, and a solid rock of a romantic partner. The McKennas have moved to Reesburgh mostly to remove Melly from her previous school. Sweet, smart Melly has a large birthmark on her cheek; she was teased and bullied unmercifully at the old school, but Reesburgh Elementary has a strong anti-bullying policy. However, Melly is still being teased. Amanda Gigot is the prettiest girl in the class --- and the meanest. Amanda, Rose knows, calls Melly "Spot the Dog" while Amanda's friends join in.
Rose has volunteered to serve as a lunch mom in the school cafeteria where she can keep an eye on Melly. Kristen Canton, the teacher of Melly's gifted group, had warned Rose that Melly didn't always eat her lunch and sometimes hid out in the handicapped bathroom for the entire period. As Rose watches the students eat, Amanda dabs a circle of jelly on her own cheek, mimicking Melly's birthmark. As the kids nearby laugh and point, Melly runs from the room toward the restroom.
Rose marches over to Amanda. She tells Amanda that what she's doing isn't nice and informs Amanda's friends that laughing at Amanda's teasing is not right. Another lunch mom approaches, announcing to Rose that the volunteers are not allowed to discipline students, and pointing out that one of Amanda's friends is now crying. The woman says she will go find the teacher in charge, who is out on the playground. As Amanda tells Rose that she's not going to listen to her anymore, the unthinkable happens. The kitchen explodes and a fireball shoots through the cafeteria. Everything goes black as Rose loses consciousness.
When Rose comes to, she is lying on the floor. The sprinklers are shooting water everywhere. Black smoke billows through the air. The cafeteria looks like a bomb site, and fire still rages from the kitchen. Rose looks around and spies Amanda, sitting on the floor and crying. She thinks of Melly in the handicapped restroom across from the kitchen. Could she have even survived the explosion? Rose struggles to her feet and realizes she must make a choice. If she gets Amanda and her friend out of the cafeteria, she won't have time to find her daughter. But if she runs to save Melly, she'd be leaving the other two girls, who might well die in the fire. It's an impossible choice, but she can't hesitate. She must act on whatever she decides immediately. Rose has no way of knowing (or time to ponder) that her resulting split-second decision will have repercussions threatening the very bonds of her life.
SAVE ME is a rapid-paced thriller that is based on a "that could be me" sympathetic main character, who finds her life unraveling in a surreal yet totally believable fashion. The sum effect is a frightening, white-knuckle read for any female who can feel Rose's desperation as her existence teeters. She must do all she can to hang on to her marriage, her children and her home, no matter what --- which all makes for a gripping page-turner.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 18, 2011
- Publication Date: February 14, 2012
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
- ISBN-10: 0312380798
- ISBN-13: 9780312380793