My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lisa Scottoline takes on school related issues such as bullying and food allergies in Save Me. Inadvertently or not, she also makes a good case against allowing mothers to volunteer in the school that their children attend. The plot centers upon Rose McKenna, who has just begun working as a lunch aide. Her 8 year old daughter, Melly, has a birthmark on her face, and is teased relentlessly by a few of her classmates. Rose observes one of these incidents, and is speaking to the mean girls when an explosion rocks the cafeteria. Perhaps the most vibrant sequence in this book occurs here, when Rose is torn between saving the tormenters or finding Melly, who has just run from the room in tears. Rose manages to get them all to safety, or so she believes. She is shocked to learn at the hospital that one of the kids, Amanda, must have reentered the burning building, and is now in critical condition. She is even more stunned to be publicly accused of abandoning Amanda to save her own daughter. Soon a lawsuit and criminal charges loom, throwing Rose and her family into turmoil.
Rose’s husband is an attorney, but although she consults with the lawyers he recommends, she soon rejects their advice. Tired of being shunned by the community, she sets out independently to discover what caused the deadly explosion. She meets with remarkable success, considering that she has no prior investigative experience; she even goes undercover, with the assistance of her best friend, a professional make up artist. Along the way, a secret from Rose’s youth comes to light, and now her formerly solid marriage is under considerable strain.
Scottoline’s usual heroines are legal types, and it would be less of a stretch for one of those to undertake this search. But Rose is a woman who wants nothing more than motherhood and family, and the motherhood theme is so over-stressed that it’s hard to accept her in the role of superhero. There are plenty of emotional bombshells to keep the plot moving, however, and while Save Me is not Scottoline’s best work, it makes for some entertaining summer reading.