Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet has a religious undercurrent. A fatal accident caused by a drunken father, leaves two boys, Michael and Patrick, on their own when the father goes to jail for fifteen years. A local religious man, with two girls, Layla and Verna, the former and older a rebellious Goth and the latter stuck in the reputation of dad and Layla. Dad fought the school about sex ed being taught in school. It’s a small town, the boys have been target for the sins of their dad and the girls have been too. ‘The sins of the father’ is a theme and the title is apt as we all have tom save ourselves, no one else will. Lots of teenage angst as beautifully expressed by the young Verna, “Lord, I love my family, but I hate them when they’re together. Forgive me, Lord. Help me not to hate them. Amen.”
Cara, Michael’s girlfriend is a situation for the brothers. There is lots of pain in this book. Pain of parents over their children. Pain of parents over the death of a child. Pain of children because of their parents. Pain in school among schoolmates, bullying, and sex. Pain provided by “friends” to expunge the bad blood. To overcome pain we hear “It’ll be okay.” Being okay is redundant and certainly relative to the pain. In short, it ain’t going to be okay the way it is going. “Okay” can’t be forced, and force is how “okay” is being administered. Frost said it best about making choices and these kids, well they all make bad choices and it’s not okay.