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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Save a Life by Kristin Harmel

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Review by Suze
Jill is a pediatric oncology nurse. Every day she deals with sick children and she tries to be there for them and to cheer them up. Jill is suffering from bad headaches and when she has an appointment with a doctor herself to find out her test results she gets the devastating news that she only has weeks left to live. Only she hasn't done much living yet. One of her patients has a secret though, something that will enable Jill to fulfill all of her last wishes.
How to Save a Life is a story about living. Even though Jill and her dear patients from the oncology ward are ill Kristin Harmel doesn't focus on their symptoms, instead she writes about the wishes they have and what they want to achieve before they die. I loved that approach. Jill has a lot of living to catch up on and I enjoyed reading about her adventures. She's dying, but because she finally has the chance to actively change things the story isn't sad. How to Save a Life is a positive story that often made me smile, sometimes I also had a lump in my throat, but never for long. Everything in this story always has a brighter side, which given the topic is quite an achievement of the author. It's what I loved most about this book.
Kristin Harmel's writing flows easily and I read this book in one sitting. Once I started reading I didn't want to stop. Jill is such a kindhearted person. She treats her sick children like they are her own. One of them, Logan, is especially dear to her. He has no family, but fortunately he has Jill. The children in the story are all very wise, which is something I really enjoyed. Being sick changes their outlook on life and I think Kristin Harmel managed to translate that into words perfectly.
I absolutely loved this beautiful and special story. If you like magical realism you will enjoy this book. The main characters all accept their destiny, they don't despair, they try to find peace in their situation. Kristin Harmel describes their journey with a lot of compassion. The magical part of the story is creative and I loved the idea. The ending is romantic and again it made me both sad and happy. Kristin Harmel understands her main characters completely, which makes this story feel exactly right and genuine. How to Save a Life is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.


  1. First time I'm hearing about this book.
    Sounds good but like it is also highly emotional at some parts.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a difficult story to read!

  3. Sounds a little intense for me, but certainly worthwhile!