book blog

How to Save a Life


How to Save a Life is a novella by the author of another book I read recently for the Rainbow-a-thon called The Sweetness of Forgetting, and her name is Kristin Harmel. These are the only two of her books that I have read, but I am very interested in finding more titles that she’s written, because there is just something so magical and yet real about her books. I love that her stories center around real life issues, and her characters seem to be so deep and connected, yet their are bits and pieces of mystical situations, and magical story lines.

Let me explain what I mean. In her newest novella, Harmel takes on a children’s oncology nurse named Jill, who happens to really adore her patients. They are all children who are suffering through cancer, and some of them are at the end of their fight. One day, she has to go and see her own doctor about these headaches that she’s been having, and come to find out she has an inoperable brain tumor and has only a month or so to live.

This of course is devastating to Jill because she is only 39 years old, hasn’t had kids or even been married. She feels that she has so much more to do in this life, and that includes taking care of her dying patients. After the initial diagnosis, she goes back to work and starts talking to some of the patients, Frankie, Katelyn and Logan, who all really like her, and they have sort of become family to her over the years. Well, Logan tells Jill that there is a magical tree outside of the hospital that grants you one more day, if you just ask.

Naturally Jill doesn’t believe him, but soon finds out that he’s not making it up, and she and the kids go on a magical ride discovering the true meaning of life, and Jill finds that maybe family doesn’t have to be blood.

For such a short novel, this book really packed a punch and I absolutely loved it. I wish there was more, and I am sad that it ended so quickly and so bittersweet. I typically have a hard time with time travel books because I am so logical about the whole damn thing, but this one, even though I kept asking how it’s possible, still gave me a magical feeling that I think many readers will enjoy. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.


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