Monday, October 10, 2011

Which way will story go?

The same initial set of circumstances can go in any number of intriguing ways in the hands of an author.
That point was driven home as I began reading Lisa Scottoline's "Save Me."

I was hooked from the get-go, that's a given.
At the start we are in a school cafeteria where mom Rose is facing a bullying situation. How much should she intervene on behalf of her daughter? What authority does she have? Why do no other adults step in? When a fire breaks out following an explosion, it soon becomes clear that bullying may not be the driving force of the story. Scottoline writes:

Rose's mind reeled. If she got Amanda and Emily out of the cafeteria to the playground, she wouldn't have time to go after Melly. If she went to save Melly, she'd have to leave Amanda and Emily, who were right in front of her. She couldn't do that, and she couldn't leave her own child to die.
It was the choice from hell, in hell.
Rose could save Melly, or she could save Amanda and Emily.
She had to choose.
Rose makes her choice and then finds herself increasingly embroiled in a legal battle and increasingly distant from her husband.

If this were a novel by Jodi Picoult, the story would probably have centered on that legal battle. The story of how a volunteering mom made an impossible split-second decision and the events that followed.

If this were a novel by Stewart O'Nan, the story would probably have focused on the relationship between Rose and her husband.

But in the hands of Lisa Scottoline, it is the basis for a fast-paced mystery novel. Rose begins spending time investigating the cause of the explosion, and as she delves deeper and deeper into the circumstances surrounding the incident, I found myself turning pages faster and faster

Click here for some questions for book clubs.

 Tricia Ambrose 
Follow me on Twitter @triciaambrose

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