Save Me (Scottoline)

Save Me
Lisa Scottoline, 2011
St. Martin's Press
416 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780312380793

Rose McKenna volunteers as a lunch mom in her daughter Melly’s school in order to keep an eye on Amanda, a mean girl who’s been bullying her daughter. Her fears come true when the bullying begins, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears.

Just as Rose is about to follow after her daughter, a massive explosion goes off in the kitchen, sending the room into chaos. Rose finds herself faced with the horrifying decision of whether or not to run to the bathroom to rescue her daughter or usher Amanda to safety. She believes she has accomplished both, only to discover that Amanda, for an unknown reason, ran back into the school once out of Rose's sight.

In an instance, Rose goes from hero to villain as the small community blames Amanda’s injuries on her. In the days that follow, Rose's life starts to fall to pieces, Amanda’s mother decides to sue, her marriage is put to the test, and worse, when her daughter returns to school, the bullying only intensifies. Rose must take matters into her own hands and get down to the truth of what really happened that fateful day in order to save herself, her marriage and her family.

In the way that Look Again had readers questioning everything they thought they knew about family, Save Me will have readers wondering just how far they would go to save the ones they love. Lisa Scottoline is writing about real issues that resonate with real women, and the results are emotional, heartbreaking and honest. (From the publisher.)

Read an excerpt

Author Bio
Birth—July 1, 1955
Where—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Education—B.A., J.D., University of Pennsylvania
Awards—Edgar Award
Currently—lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Most authors admit that they need to work in silence in order to get into the creative process. For them, writing is serious work that requires the utmost peace and concentration. Of course, most authors are not writing the kind of whiz-bang, sharp, wild, and witty works that Lisa Scottoline is producing. Scottoline's unusual working methods and desire for all things pop culture have helped her to create some of the most unapologetically entertaining and compulsively page-turning novels in contemporary popular fiction.

Scottoline's initial impetus to become a novelist was not quite as joyful as her novels might suggest. She had recently given up her position as a litigator at a Philadelphia law firm to raise her newborn daughter at the same time as she was breaking up with her husband. While the birth of her daughter was an undoubtedly happy moment for Scottoline, she was also thrust into relative isolation in the wake of her separation and the end of her job. To keep herself busy (when not tending to her daughter, that is), she decided to write a novel, the provocative story of an ambitious young lawyer whose hectic life becomes even more manic when she learns she is being stalked. Three years after beginning the novel, Scottoline sold Everywhere That Mary Went to HarperCollins a mere week after taking a part-time job as a clerk for an appellate judge—her first job since beginning the book. While her transition from lawyer to novelist may seem abrupt to some, Scottoline asserts that it was law school that gave her the necessary tools to spin a compelling yarn. In a 2005 interview with Barnes &, Scottoline asserted that the job of a lawyer is surprisingly similar to that of a good writer: "Take the facts that matter, throw out the ones that don't, order them in such a way in which a point of view is created so that by the time someone is finished listening to your argument or reading your book they see things completely in that point of view."

Scottoline's sure-handed way with an intriguing narrative has led to a string of bestselling thrillers and a popular series revolving around the women of Rosato & Associates, an all-female law firm in Philadelphia—the author's own beloved hometown. Jam-packed with humor, mystery, eroticism, and smarts, her novels are published worldwide and have been translated into twenty-five different languages.

From a 2005 Barnes & Noble interview:

• Lisa Scottoline is definitely no TV snob. She feels no shame when revealing her love of everything from Court TV to Oprah to The Apprentice to I Love Lucy.

• One of the reasons that Scottoline is such a fabulous writer may have something to do with having a particularly fabulous teacher. While studying English at the University of Pennsylvania she was instructed by National Book Award Winner Philip Roth.

• Don't try this at home! Scottoline completed her first novel, Everywhere That Mary Went, while she and her newborn daughter lived solely on $35,000 worth of credit from five Visa cards, which she'd completely maxed out by the time she completed the book three years later. 

When asked in a 2005 Barnes & Noble interview what book that most influenced her life, her is what she said:

The Firm, by John Grisham. It's a truly page-turning book about lawyers, which ain't easy, and it changed my life on a very literal level. I'd always been a huge fan of the legal thriller, from the time of Erle Stanley Gardner. But John Grisham broke new ground in The Firm, because for the first time, a lawyer was the star of the novel, but he wasn't shown in a courtroom drama—he was an underdog. Admittedly, a good-looking, wealthy, BMW-driving underdog, but an underdog just the same. And Grisham opened my eyes to the possibility that lawyers could have rich interior lives (at the time, I was a lawyer without a rich interior life), and from him I learned that these lives could make for first-rate suspense fiction, which led me to think that maybe I could try my hand at writing, as well. So I owe Grisham, not only as a fan and a lawyer, but as a writer. And I hope that anyone out there who has a secret longing to write a book will give it a try. Everyone has a book in them. Even lawyers.  (Author bio and interview from Barnes & Noble.)

Visit Lisa's website and say hello on Facebook.

Book Reviews
Scottoline, so attentive to plot, is indifferent to character.... [C]haracters exist chiefly to present Rose with exactly the information she needs just when she needs it. But, in truth, who cares when there is one thrill after another, particularly when the plot moves into the legal and investigative realms where Scottoline excels?
Caroline Leavitt - New York Times Book Review

The Scottoline we love as a virtuoso of suspense, fast action and intricate plot is back in top form in Save Me, manipulating pulse rates and heartstrings with all the ruthlessness she showed in Look Again…Here, as elsewhere in her work, Scottoline is exceptionally good at depicting the feral, pack mentality of public opinion and the impotence of decency and dignity before it.
Katherine A. Powers - Washington Post

In Save Me Lisa Scottoline walks readers into this charged moral dilemma and then takes them on an intense, breathless ride. You won't be able to put this one down.
Jodi Picoult - Author (Sing You Home and House Rules)

An emotionally riveting novel that explores the depths of one mother's love for her daughter.... Powerful, provocative, and page-turning!
Emily Giffin - Author (Heart of the Matter and Something Borrowed)

Heart-pounding! Scottoline provides the perfect combination of explosive action, twisting turns, and genuine emotion in this exciting novel of an ordinary mom going to extraordinary lengths for her daughter. Open up SAVE ME, and save yourself with a great book.
Lisa Gardner - Author  (Love You More)

At the start of this gut-wrenching stand-alone from bestseller Scottoline (Think Twice), an explosion rips through the nearly empty cafeteria of Reesburgh, Pa., Elementary School. Lunch mother Rose McKenna leads two girls to safety before racing to rescue her own daughter, Melly, but Rose soon learns that she may face both civil and criminal charges for her heroics because one of the girls she saved was seriously injured in the resulting fire that killed three school staff members. The tension rises as the united front presented by Rose and her lawyer husband, Leo Ingrassia, begins to disintegrate in the face of media demands, legal maneuverings, and social pressures. Rose must also deal with school bullying (Melly has a noticeable facial blemish), difficult legal problems, and her husband's reaction when a secret from her past is revealed. Scottoline melds it all into a satisfying nail-biting thriller sure to please her growing audience.
Publishers Weekly

What begins as an ordinary day for lunch mom volunteer Rose McKenna quickly morphs into a harrowing event that will spiral her life out of control. When a tragedy occurs at her daughter's elementary school, Rose transforms from heroine to villain in a matter of hours after she is forced to make a life-changing moral decision. As the media seeks to vilify her and her community shuns her, Rose continues on an intense weeklong search for the truth. Suspecting foul play led to the tragic event, she dedicates herself to unraveling the mystery. Rose's dogged determination exposes a high-profile scandal and threatens to endanger her life and her family. In another departure (after Look Again) from her Bernie Rosato courtroom thrillers (Think Twice), Scottoline crafts a heartfelt emotional novel with the intensity of a thriller. Verdict: This stand-alone work will mesmerize readers at the first page and hold them spellbound until the final word. Jodi Picoult fans may crown a new favorite author. —Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Library Journal

At the quick pace of a thriller, Scottoline masterfully fits every detail into a tight plot chock-full of real characters, real issues, and real thrills. A story anchored by the impenetrable power of a mother's love, it begs the question, just how far would you go to save your child? —Annie McCormick

The creator of Philadelphia lawyer Bennie Rosato (Think Twice, 2010, etc.) pens another white-hot crossover novel about the perils of mother love. One minute catalog model–turned–lunchroom mom Rose McKenna is keeping third-grade bully Amanda Gigot from leaving the Reesburgh Elementary cafeteria while she tells Amanda that she shouldn't make fun of Rose's daughter, Melinda Cadiz, because of the port wine birthmark on her cheek; the next, she's agonizing over which child to save first from an explosion that's ripped through the school cafeteria. Rose's reflexes make what she ends up deciding were the best decisions at the time: She led Amanda and her friends to the door to safety, then went back to look for Melly, who'd hidden in a rest room. But Eileen Gigot and her many friends in the school don't agree. They accuse Rose of detaining Amanda, now lying in a hospital in a coma, then leaving her in the care of another 8-year-old so that she could rescue her own daughter, who's making a full recovery. Rose is stung by shock, then guilt, and finally outrage when she realizes that Eileen may file both civil and criminal actions against her. Worse, she learns that her one ally in Reesburgh Elementary, gifted teacher Kristen Canton, is leaving. Worse still, the hardball litigator her understanding husband, attorney Leo Ingrassia, has dug up for her, is anticipating possible prosecution by taking an aggressive stand on his client's behalf, positioning Rose as exactly the sort of bully she's been trying to protect her daughter from. So when Kurt Rehgard, a carpenter who'd hinted that the explosion was an extremely suspicious accident, is killed together with the contractor friend he'd confided in, Rose parks Melly with some sympathetic neighbors for a few days and takes it upon herself to discover exactly what happened and why. Scottoline, who shifts gears at every curve with the cool efficiency of a NASCAR driver, expertly fuels her target audience's dearest fantasy: "Every mom is an action hero.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. Save Me explores the mother and child relationship, at its heart.  What do you think defines a mother?  How is a mother and child relationship different than any other relationship?  Look at other forms of culture, like art, for example.  How many depictions are there of mother and child?  And how many of father and child?  Are we discriminating against fathers, or diminishing them, by all this talk of the mother-child bond?  And by doing so, do we create a self-fulfilling prophecy?

2. In Save Me, Melly is the victim of bullying because of a birthmark on her face.  Do you think bullying is different today than years ago?  Do you think that the bullying is getting worse, or are we just hearing more about it because of the Internet?   What do you think parents and schools should do to help curb bullying?  What kind of punishment do you think is appropriate for the child who is doing the bullying?  What about those who watch and say nothing?  Are they, or aren’t they, equally as culpable?  Do you think that school programs and curricula that build up self-esteem and a sense of community will really make a difference?

3. Rose experienced her own bullying at the hands of the angry parents, which gave her new perspective on what Melly was going through.  Do you have any experience with bullying between adults?   In what ways are adults better equipped to deal with bullying than children?  What impact can bullying have on adults, and what can an adult do if they are faced with a bully?  What impact does being a bully, or being a bully as an adult, have on their children?

4. Rose steps in to defend Melly against her bully.  Do you think it was a good idea?  Why or why not?  How do you think a parent's involvement hurts or helps the situation?  At what point do you think a parent needs to involve themselves in the situation?  What steps would you take to help your child if they were being bullied, and how far would you be willing to go?

5. What impact do you think a physical blemish has on a child, and how do you think it effects their identity, their relationship with their family, and their relationship with the outside world?  Take it a step further – like how about physical differences, like a child in a wheelchair?  Or learning challenges, that aren’t so visible?  Or how about discriminations based on race, religion or sexual orientation?  Melly's father reacted very badly to Melly's birthmark.  What did his reaction make you feel about him?

6. Many of Lisa's books center on single mothers or blended families.  Do you think the love of one great parent is enough to sustain a child through life?  Does it take a husband, too?  Or a village?

7. As Rose found out, volunteering comes with risks. The book makes clear that this is a problem in the law of many states, maybe even where you live.  What do you think of the laws in terms of protecting those who volunteer their time?  What changes, if any, would you make to the laws to protect volunteers?  Should we expand the Good Samaritan statues to include volunteers and to encourage even more people to volunteer?

8. How did you feel about Rose keeping her secret past from Leo?  Did you understand her reasoning?  Did you agree or disagree with it?  What impact do you think Rose's past will have on her marriage as she moves forward?  Do you think she will ever really be able to escape what happened?  Will he forgive her not telling him?  How do secrets impact intimacy in our lives?

9. Rose was called a "helicopter" parent, a term often used in today's society with a negative connotation.  What separates helicopter parenting from good parenting? What kind of parent do you think Rose was? What mistakes do you think she made?  Do you think she was a good mother?  Do you think she favors Melly, or the baby? Or treats them equally?

10. How did you feel about Amanda in the beginning of the book?  How, if at all, did your opinion of her change by the end of the book?  What do you think causes children to be bullies?  Under what circumstances would you ever feel bad for the bully?  In punishing a bully, do you think their personal circumstances should be taken into account?

11. What did you think of Rose's lawyers' strategy? Did you agree or disagree with it?  Why or why not? Do you think they were just passing the blame, or do you think the school had a responsibility in what happened?  Do you think that litigation is another form of bullying?  Do you know anybody who is sue-happy?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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