“Saving Sophie” by Debbie Schrack

“Saving Sophie” by Debbie Schrack 175 265 Reader Views Kids

Saving Sophie

Debbie Schrack
Fire & Ice Young Adult Books (2022)
ISBN: 978-1955784863
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (07/2023)

“Saving Sophie” by Debbie Schrack is a coming-of-age story about a boy and a girl in love and learning to navigate this feeling under uncommon circumstances. Gabe is a seventeen-year-old high school senior, perfectionist, athlete, academic scholar, and a down-to-earth guy trying to survive the end of high school and figure out his future while working around a social and love life. Frustration and resentment take over as his primary emotions toward his older brother who is currently in prison.  Six months earlier, his brother killed four members of a family in a drunk driving accident and is now serving nearly a decade for it.  The sole survivor of the family devastated by this wreck is Sophie, a sixteen-year-old who now struggles with seizures and a learning disability. Following the accident, the lives of both Gabe and Sophie turn upside down in different yet similar ways.

Having to choose a senior project, Gabe becomes Sophie’s tutor, causing him to feel uncomfortable but also allowing some restitution for his brother’s actions toward her family. He’s ready and accepting of this task; what he’s not prepared for is falling in love with her. Gabe must navigate the murky waters of having intense feelings toward someone with a disability while carrying a secret that has the potential to ruin it all.

“Saving Sophie” is not a story that I will soon forget. The author’s skill in writing about the relationships, struggles, temptations, atmosphere, and joys in each of the characters’ lives was realistic and relatable; I felt each of their emotions personally. I became engrossed in the story and might have taken out some feelings on others around me – oops.

Apart from the uncertainty that encompasses high school, other themes include underage drinking/alcoholism/partying/drug usage, drunk driving with its potential natural consequences (prison, death, lasting effects), teen pregnancy and abortion, mixed-race relationships, gay relationships, disabilities/seizures, and mental health symptoms. I could not put down this book – a torrent of emotions took over, exhausting at times, along with an eye-opening experience. The fictional characters demonstrate to their real-life audience valuable and memorable tips through their choices – a big lesson on honesty and openness. Frustration (at the characters and their choices) is a strong emotion I acknowledged, along with awe and curiosity at the author’s ability to put me in tune with the characters. The story “A Walk to Remember” has similarities with this story, yet “Saving Sophie” by Debbie Schrack is a standalone novel that deserves its due respect. Having reached the end, I am sure that I need more.

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