Title: Save Me Once
Author: Alana Terry
Series: Safe Refuge Christian Thriller series
Major Themes: Trafficking, Modern Slavery, Faith, Determination
Synopsis: When Becky is pulled into an exciting romance with an older boy at school, she doesn’t realize what trouble her family will find themselves in when she disappears with him.
Save Me Once made me break a promise to myself. I promised I wouldn’t touch a thriller book for several months, just to get a break from the fast-paced stories I’d been reading, so I could focus on some of the slower-paced ones. Did that happen? No. Why? Because Alana Terry has an excellent method for launching her books, and even though I had no intentions of reading the story when I “attended” the launch party, she hooked me and made me realize I wanted to read this book. I was still determined to let it wait a couple of weeks, but decided to read one chapter—which quickly morphed into two, and then three, and, well, it went downhill from there. Or uphill, maybe I should say, because I got reeled in, and the story didn’t turn out anything like I was afraid it would be.
Becky has met the love of her life. She’s only fifteen, but she knows what she wants—and she knows Xavier is the one she’s meant to be with. They are going to have an amazing life together. She’s sure of it.
Caroline loves her husband, but hates how he’s drawn into his job and neglects their marriage so much. Perhaps a marriage conference will solve their issues—or at least give them a place to start. She longs for change, but will God answer her prayers for help?
For Margot, Becky’s mother, life couldn’t have turned more upside down the day she found out her precious only daughter was missing. She’s never given up hope over these past nine months, even though each day that passes gets more difficult to live.
Save Me Once is, in my opinion, one of the best Christian fiction titles I’ve read this year. Now, it doesn’t feel like that says much—because I haven’t read as much this year as I normally would have. But it’s an excellent book. I’ve read at least one other that dealt with trafficking, but that one didn’t touch what this one did.
One thing I appreciated a lot was that I wasn’t forced to participate in things I didn’t want to hear about or see. At times, it was obvious that the characters said more than was written on the page—but we don’t have to read the nitty, gritty details. I loved that! The story flowed just fine without it, and I didn’t have to mentally scrub anything when I finished reading. Win/win!
The characters, though…they shone in this book. I don’t know how much time Terry spent working with them to make them (or allow them) to end up the way they did, but they were excellent. Though there were four point of view characters, the scene transitions from one to another were never confusing, and the speaking and thinking styles were spot-on every time. They always acted in-character, even the times when I really wished they’d just break and do what they were supposed to do. I so wanted to give several of them a good shaking at times!
I feel like I learned a lot from Save Me Once, but I think the biggest thing is that God still works miracles in unexpected places if we let Him.
Some days, I wish all of life could be like a fictitious book, but I think that’s well-nigh impossible. However, it’s very true that God does work if we let Him, and He longs to do that. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when one character got right with the Lord—though some people might see it as preachy because it is a “salvation scene”, I found it to be very encouraging. I’ve been a Christ-follower for many years now, but the points shared in there were ones I needed to hear again. It also flowed naturally with the story, and didn’t have any of that “we must have this to make it a Christian book” feel to it at all. I loved it.
I requested a free review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: This book deals with sex trafficking, from grooming right through to using, and although it is as discreet as possible, you do get a pretty good picture of what’s going on. As such, I don’t have many warnings, because the mentions are scattered throughout the book.
For example, this is the level of information you’re often given. At one point a character is talking about pictures taken of a girl: “Dozens of pictures. Of our little girl. Our Becky in all kinds of…” (ch. 35).
A woman is drinking and gets drunk in ch. 33 and 34. There are references to a woman stealing someone’s husband in ch. 33. A husband possibly sleeping around is mentioned in ch. 34. “Swear” is used in ch. 35, 46, and 54; “gee” in ch. 36; “holy cupcakes” in ch. 40, 44, 55, 58, 69, and 74; “oh my G—” in ch. 61; “blasted” in ch. 70; and “oh my goodness” in ch. 74. A woman thinks her life is threatened in ch. 35. Someone lies in ch. 68. In ch. 75, there’s a mention of someone who was raped, and a woman mentions she hopes a guy is given the electric chair.
The worst mentions of abuse in this book are in ch. 37, which talks about a girl working and refers to her dates. It also mentions her groomer hurting her. Ch. 39 mentions a meeting between handlers. Ch. 43 has a conversation with another worker about what they’re doing. She is beaten in ch. 60.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults