How to Save a Life by Eva Carter | The BookBuff Review

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How to Save a Life
Author: Eva Carter
Publish date: Month 27, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (Imprint: Mantle Books)
Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Book Review

Rating: 2/5


This book is about putting other people’s needs ahead of yourself – even if it hurts.

The character storylines are interdependent and we experience their lives over the course of 18 years. Each time you will rejoice for a happy ending in sight, the character will experience something painful.

With each step forward, they will move two steps back. Self-abnegation is a common theme. Women especially have been known to be not just stoic but self-sacrificing in love. To me this was unhealthy. If you do however enjoy a bit of melancholy and melodrama that this would be a book you might want to read. 


This a story of three friends – Joel, Tim and Kerry. 

Joel is a budding football star whose life has done a total 180-degree turn. Tim is this diffident boy who aches to make his Mum proud. Kerry is a timid girl who overnight turns into a knight in shining armour. 

On New Year Eve, the lives of all three are going to be forever interwoven. 

Joel has a heart attack. Kerry and Tim perform CPR. Joel survives. The End? No. Life is neither that simple nor fair. Over decades these characters evolve – each in their own direction. Each time they move ahead, their past catches up. 

There is no simple path to success and happiness, and our characters learn about it the hard way. 

As you see them mature from teenagers to young adults, we see how deeply one incident impacts their lives. 

This is a book about taking the hard knocks in life, falling and getting back up – all the while you feel your life is spiralling out of control. 

My Opinion:

Unpopular opinion! This book is meant to be a light read about making hard choices over and over again.  Honest to god, trying to read this book felt exactly like this. It was further troublesome when I found out that the author says it is loosely based on her experience of saving a life.

I tried very very hard, but I did not enjoy the storyline. This book just does not cut it for me. In fact, it has frustrated me to read about people sacrificing themselves at the altar. Why? I fail to understand why all our lead characters are portrayed as needy, and at times pitiable. 

Am I expected to feel that any of these characters are better than the regular average Joe? Especially, the young  Kerry: she is so sacrificing; at times doormat like. She has this almost pathological need to fix things. Is this something to be proud of? I wouldn’t think so!  In fact, it displeases me that such self-abnegation was glorified! I do not connect with the logic.

Pro: The author has done a good job in at least provoking a reaction. 🙂

How To Buy The Book:

The book comes out in May 2021

You can buy it online on the Amazon website (external link)  or
Go directly to the publisher Pan Macmillan and place an order here on their web page

More about the author:

Eva Carter is a pen name. The author – Kate Harrison – writes in four genres and has three identities. She worked with the BBC and was a TV correspondent. She has written some successful books and a TV documentary, and is no novice! She hoped that as her first book under ‘Eva Carter’ will appeal to the many who swear by (me included) The Grey’s Anatomy series. Here is a link to her site in case you want to sign to her newsletter and/or want to read more about her. 

Questions for the Book Club 

IMP: SPOILER ALERT, visit this section only after you’ve read the book:

  1. Do you think Joel did drugs because he was frustrated to be alive? Do you think he would have been happier if he knew Kerry saved him and not Tim?
  1. Was Joel fear of passing on a disease to his offspring a legitimate reason to not settle down? Or was it something else?
  1. Joel says his son healed him; brought him out of his toxic mindset. Do you believe he was using his ill health as a crutch and having responsibility shook him up?
  1. Why is Tim driven to please both his mother and Kerry? 
  1. Does Tim’s childhood impact his adult relationships?
  1. Tim’s mother is hard on her son. Can you hypothesize why she is eager to almost disparage him if he does not please her?
  1. Why does Kerry believe she needed to move in with Tim and his mother? Was it the correct decision?
  1. “Love isn’t about big dramas or declarations. It’s what we do every day for each other…” Kerry says this about her love for Tim. Do you believe 
  1. We see Kerry go from shy, timid to ruthless. How would you have evaluated her psyche during this time?
  1. What is the moral of the story?

Disclaimer: Thanks to #NetGalley for # HowtoSaveALife – an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Akansha is a former business journalist and a seasoned communications professional. She is the founder of TheBookBuff, an avid storyteller, and a lifelong biblophile! Check out her profile page to know more about Akansha.

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