Sometimes saving a life is only the start of the story.
Its nearly midnight on the eve of the millennium when eighteen-year-old Joel’s heart stops. A school friend, Kerry, performs CPR while her best friend Tim freezes, unable to help. After twenty exhausting minutes, Joel’s heart finally re-starts.
That moment of life and death will change the course of all three lives for the next two decades. Each time they believe they’ve fallen in love, found their paths, or simply moved on, Joel, Kerry and Tim’s lives collide again.
Because Bravery isn’t just about life or death decisions, it’s about how to keep on living afterwards.
I read this book as part of a readalong organised by the publisher – huge thanks for the pretty proof copy. The readalong started on March 29th and was scheduled to finish on Sunday 11th April, however it was very quickly evident that people were struggling to put this book down and so many finished it super quickly, I was among the group who did not stick to the dates and finished prematurely!
It is a truely engaging read, starting on the eve of the new millenium when Joel’s heart stops, he is a cool kid in college and has a promising career ahead as a footballer. Everything changes for him as the clock strikes midnight at the turn of the century. The story spans the next 20 years as the repercussions of this event affect not only Joel, but also Kerry who intervened and performed CPR and Tim who froze.
Told chronologically from the perspectives of Tim, Kerry and Joel their lives remain connected to varying degrees throughout the book. Essentially this is an uplifting read, a story of recovery, literally from death for an 18 year old boy, the road ahead is not smooth and both him and Kerry at different times find themselves questionning whether it was a life worth saving. That said it is an inspirational read about having to re evaluate ones expectations following a crisis, as Joel’s dreams of being a professional football died as his heart stopped beating.
The book is divided into four parts and each section starts with ‘A Guide to the Chain of Survival’, basically what to do if someone stops breathing, if their heart stops. This was informative and felt very important, I as I think many have, have done basic first aid, but I had not appreciated fully that initial response and its importance in saving lives. Which as I write sounds ridiculous and I find it curious that it is a work of fiction that really brings this message home.
Do note the dates at the start of the chapters because there are jumps in time that you will need to pay attention to, otherwise this is a highly, highly recommended work of fiction. Full of fantastic nostalgic references for those of us who remember the millenium and before, informative, engaging and entertaining, this book ticks all the boxes for excellent contemporary fiction.
About the Author
Kate Harrison is the bestselling author of more than 20 novels and non-fiction books, under her own name and the pseudonymes Kate Helm and Eva Carter.
She has written romantic comedy (The Secret Shopper’s Revenge), psychological thrillers (The House Share), and diet/recipe books (The 5:2 Diet Book). Before becoming an author, she worked as a TV news correspondent and led a team developing and pitching new programmes and formats for the BBC. Her first book for writers, Pitch Power, was published in 2019. She also wote the TV drama script for the 2006 BBC One docu-drama, Angel of Death: The Story of Beverley Allitt.
How to Save a Life is an epic love story set over two decades, was inspired by her personal experiences when her partner’s heart stopped and she had to perform CPR. She lives in Brighton with her partner, plus a shaggy terrier and a sleek tabby cat.