Save Me

Overview

"Each staccato chapter adds new and unexpected turns, so many you could get whiplash just turning a page. Scottoline knows how to keep readers in her grip." —The New York Times Book Review

 

Nobody could have foreseen what would happen the day that Rose McKenna volunteers in the cafeteria of her daughter’s elementary school. Rose does it to keep a discreet eye on her third-grader, Melly, a sweet, if shy, child who was born with a facial birthmark that has become her own personal...

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Save Me: A Novel

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Overview

"Each staccato chapter adds new and unexpected turns, so many you could get whiplash just turning a page. Scottoline knows how to keep readers in her grip." —The New York Times Book Review

 

Nobody could have foreseen what would happen the day that Rose McKenna volunteers in the cafeteria of her daughter’s elementary school. Rose does it to keep a discreet eye on her third-grader, Melly, a sweet, if shy, child who was born with a facial birthmark that has become her own personal bull’s-eye. Melly has been targeted by the mean girl at their new school and gets bullied every day, placing Rose in a no-win position familiar to parents everywhere. Do we step in to protect our children when they need us, or does that make things worse?

When the bully starts to tease Melly yet again, Rose is about to leap into action—but right then, the unthinkable happens. Rose finds herself in a nightmare, faced with an emergency decision that no mother should ever have to make. Would she sacrifice another mother’s child to save her own? What she decides in that split second derails Rose’s life and jeopardizes everything she holds dear—her family, her marriage—and even her own life…

"A white-hot crossover novel about the perils of mother love."—Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Edgar Award-winning author Lisa Scottoline writes mysteries with meanings that run deeper than those of your average whodunit. In Save Me, she weaves a story of a protective mother, a daughter, a bully, an explosion, and a backlash that probes questions about basic human nature as well as criminal culprits. At the outset, Susan Pressman is just another volunteer monitoring a school lunchroom, but events propel her forward into unforeseen places, leaving her and her family vulnerable and dependent on her own ability to sort out meaning from chaos.

From the Publisher
Praise for Lisa Scottoline’s

Save Me

 

"Are you a good mother if you save your child from disaster? What if it means sacrificing another’s child? In Save Me, Lisa Scottoline walks readers into this charged moral dilemma and then takes them on an intense, breathless ride where accidents might not be accidents at all. You won’t be able to put this one down." —Jodi Picoult

"Each staccato chapter adds new and unexpected turns, so many you could get whiplash just turning a page. Scottoline knows how to keep readers in her grip." —The 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." —The Washington Post Book World

"A white-hot crossover novel about the perils of mother love." —Kirkus Reviews

 

"A satisfying, nail-biting thriller." —Publishers Weekly

"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?"—Booklist

"An emotionally riveting novel that explores the depths of one mother’s love for her daughter. Powerful, provocative, and page-turning!" —Emily Giffin

"A novel packed with excitement and emotion, Save Me is a gut-clenching, heart-stirring read." —Sandra Brown

"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

"From one shock to the next, only a mom’s courage and love bring justice. Nerves-on-edge, heart-pounding, and heart-wrenching, Save Me is thrilling and infused with love. Brilliant, I couldn’t put it down." —Louise Penny

Katherine A. Powers
…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.
—The Washington Post
Caroline Leavitt
Scottoline knows how to keep readers in her grip…there is one thrill after another, particularly once the narrative moves into the legal and investigative realms where Scottoline excels…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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. 400,000 first printing; author tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal
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. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/10.]—Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Kirkus Reviews

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."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312380816
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/3/2015
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 831,710
  • Product dimensions: 4.12 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Scottoline

LISA SCOTTOLINE is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award—winning author of twenty-one novels. She has served as the President of Mystery Writers of America, and her recent novel Look Again has been optioned for a feature film. She is a weekly columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and her columns have been collected in four books and optioned for television. She has 25 million copies of her books in print in the United States, and she has been published in thirty countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets.

Visit www.lisascottoline.com or follow Lisa on Facebook or Twitter.

Biography

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 & Noble.com, 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.

Good To Know

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.

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    1. Hometown:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 1, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

     Rose McKenna stood against the wall in the noisy cafeteria, having volunteered as lunch mom, which is like a security guard with eyeliner. Two hundred children were talking, thumb-wrestling, or getting ready for recess, because lunch period was almost over. Rose was keeping an eye on her daughter, Melly, who was at the same table as the meanest girl in third grade. If there was any trouble, Rose was going to morph into a mother lion, in clogs.

     Melly sat alone at the end of the table, sorting her fruit treats into a disjointed rainbow. She kept her head down, and her wavy, dark blond hair fell into her face, covering the port-wine birthmark on her cheek, a large round blotch like blusher gone haywire. Its medical term was nevus flammeus, an angry tangle of blood vessels under the skin, but it was Melly’s own personal bull’s-eye. It had made her a target for bullies ever since pre-school, and she’d developed tricks to hide it, like keeping her face down, resting her cheek in her hand, or at naptime, lying on her left side, still as a chalk outline at a murder scene. None of the tricks worked forever.

     The mean girl’s name was Amanda Gigot, and she sat at the opposite end of the table, showing an iPod to her friends. Amanda was the prettiest girl in their class, with the requisite straight blond hair, bright blue eyes, and perfect smile, and she dressed like a teenager in a white jersey tank, pink ruffled skirt, and gold Candie’s sandals. Amanda wasn’t what people pictured when they heard the term “bully,” but wolves could dress in sheep’s clothing or Juicy Couture. Amanda was smart and verbal enough to tease at will, which earned her a fear-induced popularity found in elementary schools and fascist dictatorships.

     It was early October, but Amanda was already calling Melly names like Spot The Dog and barking whenever she came into the classroom, and Rose prayed it wouldn’t get worse. They’d moved here over the summer to get away from the teasing in their old school, where it had gotten so bad that Melly developed stomachaches and eating problems. She’d had trouble sleeping and she’d wake up exhausted, inventing reasons not to go to school. She tested as gifted, but her grades hovered at C’s because of her absences. Rose had higher hopes here, since Reesburgh Elementary was in a better school district, with an innovative, anti-bullying curriculum.

     She couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful school building, either. It was brand-new construction, just finished last August, and the cafeteria was state-of-the-art, with modern skylights, shiny tables with blue plastic seats, and cheery blue-and-white tile walls. Bulletin boards around the room were decorated for Halloween, with construction-paper pumpkins, papier-mâché spiders, and black cats, their tails stiff as exclamation points. A wall clock covered with fake cobwebs read 11:20, and most of the kids were stowing their lunchboxes in the plastic bins for each homeroom and leaving through the doors to the playground, on the left.

     Rose checked Melly’s table, and was dismayed. Amanda and her friends Emily and Danielle were finishing their sandwiches, but Melly’s lunch remained untouched in her purple Harry Potter lunchbox. The gifted teacher, Kristen Canton, had emailed Rose that Melly sometimes didn’t eat at lunch and waited out the period in the handicapped bathroom, so Rose had volunteered as lunch mom to see what was going on. She couldn’t ignore it, but she didn’t want to overreact, walking a familiar parental tightrope.

     “Oh no, I spilled!” cried a little girl whose milk carton tipped over, splashing onto the floor.

     “It’s okay, honey.” Rose went over, grabbed a paper napkin, and swabbed up the milk. “Put your tray away. Then you can go out.”

     Rose tossed out the soggy napkin, then heard a commotion behind her and turned around, stricken at the sight. Amanda was dabbing grape jelly onto her cheek, making a replica of Melly’s birthmark. Everyone at the table was giggling, and kids on their way out pointed and laughed. Melly was running from the cafeteria, her long hair flying. She was heading toward the exit for the handicapped bathroom, on the right.

     “Melly, wait!” Rose called out, but Melly was already past her, so she went back to the lunch table. “Amanda, what are you doing? That’s not nice.”

     Amanda tilted her face down to hide her smile, but Emily and Danielle stopped laughing, their faces reddening.

     “I didn’t do anything.” Emily’s lower lip began to pucker, and Danielle shook her head, with its long, dark braid.

     “Me, neither,” she said. The other girls scattered, and the rest of the kids hustled out to recess.

     “You girls laughed,” Rose said, pained. “That’s not right, and you should know that. You’re making fun of her.” She turned to Amanda, who was wiping off the jelly with a napkin. “Amanda, don’t you understand how hurtful you’re being? Can’t you put yourself in Melly’s shoes? She can’t help the way she is, nobody can.”

     Amanda didn’t reply, setting down the crumpled napkin.

     “Look at that bulletin board. See what it says?” Rose pointed to the Building Blocks of Character poster, with its glittery letters that read CARING COMPASSION COMMUNITY, from Reesburgh’s anti-bullying curriculum. “Teasing isn’t caring or compassionate, and—”

     “What’s going on?” someone called out, and Rose looked up to see the other lunch mom hurrying over. She had on a denim dress and sandals, and wore her highlighted hair short. “Excuse me, we have to get these girls out to recess.”

     “Did you see what just happened?”

     “No, I missed it.”

     “Well, Amanda was teasing and—”

     Amanda interrupted, “Hi, Mrs. Douglas.”

     “Hi, Amanda.” The lunch mom turned to Rose. “We have to get everybody outside, so the kitchen can get ready for B lunch.” She gestured behind her, where the last students were leaving the cafeteria. “See? Time to go.”

     “I know, but Amanda was teasing my daughter, Melly, so I was talking to her about it.”

     “You’re new, right? I’m Terry Douglas. Have you ever been lunch mom before?”

     “No.”

     “So you don’t know the procedures. The lunch moms aren’t supposed to discipline the students.”

     “I’m not disciplining them. I’m just talking to them.”

     “Whatever, it’s not going well.” Terry nodded toward Emily, just as a tear rolled down the little girl’s cheek.

     “Oh, jeez, sorry.” Rose didn’t think she’d been stern, but she was tired and maybe she’d sounded cranky. She’d been up late with baby John, who had another ear infection, and she’d felt guilty taking him to a sitter’s this morning so she could be lunch mom. He was only ten months old, and Rose was still getting the hang of mothering two children. Most of the time she felt torn in half, taking care of one child at the expense of the other, like the maternal equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul. “Terry, the thing is, this school has a strict zero-tolerance policy against bullying, and the kids need to learn it. All the kids. The kids who tease, as well as the allies, the kids who laugh and think it’s funny.”

     “Nevertheless, when there’s a disciplinary issue, the procedure is for the lunch mom to tell a teacher. Mrs. Snyder is out on the playground. These girls should go out to recess, and you should take it up with her.”

     “Can I just finish what I was saying to them? That’s all this requires.” Rose didn’t want to make it bigger, for Melly’s sake. She could already hear the kids calling her a tattletale.

     “Then I’ll go get her myself.” Terry turned on her heel and walked away, and the cafeteria fell silent except for the clatter of trays and silverware in the kitchen.

Rose faced the table. “Amanda,” she began, dialing back her tone, “you have to understand that teasing is bullying. Words can hurt as much as a punch.”

     “You’re not allowed to yell at me! Mrs. Douglas said!”

Rose blinked, surprised. She’d be damned if she’d be intimidated by somebody in a Hannah Montana headband. “I’m not yelling at you,” she said calmly.

     “I’m going to recess!” Amanda jumped to her feet, startling Emily and Danielle.

     Suddenly, something exploded in the kitchen. A searing white light flashed in the kitchen doorway. Rose turned toward the ear-splitting boom! The kitchen wall flew apart, spraying shards of tile, wood, and wallboard everywhere.

     A shockwave knocked Rose off her feet. A fireball billowed into the cafeteria.

     And everything went black and silent.

 

Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Scottoline

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Reading Group Guide

I am a huge fan of book clubs because it means people are reading and discussing books. Mix that with wine and carbs, and you can’t keep me away. I’m deeply grateful to all who read me, and especially honored when my book is chosen by a book club. I wanted an opportunity to say thank you to those who read me, which gave me the idea of a contest. Every year I hold a book-club contest and the winning book club gets a visit from me and a night of fabulous food and good wine. To enter is easy: All you have to do is take a picture of your entire book club with each member holding a copy of my newest hardcover and send it to me by mail or e-mail. No book club is too small or too big. Don’t belong to a book club? Start one. Just grab a loved one, a neighbor, or friend, and send in your picture of you each holding my newest book. I look forward to coming to your town and wining and dining your group.

Tour time is my favorite time of year because I get to break out my fancy clothes and meet with interesting and fun readers around the country. The rest of the year I am a homebody, writing every day, but thrilled to be able to connect with readers through e-mail. I read all my e-mail, and answer as much as I can. So, drop me a line about books, families, pets, love, or whatever is on your mind at lisa@scottoline.com. For my latest book and tour information, special promotions, and updates you can sign up at my website for my newsletter.

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