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To Save A Life
Authors: Jim & Rachel Britts
Outreach, Inc. with New Song Pictures. 2009.
Pb, pp. 319. ISBN 978-0-9823744-6-7. $14.99
 
Whether it is appropriate too say a film is based on a novel, or a novel based on a film (the chicken or the egg), To Save A Life both novel and film are out now. They chronicle the life of Jake Taylor, star basketball player at a high school  on the West Coast. During his senior year, Jakeís world comes crashing down with the suicide of a friend, Roger. As guilt hits Jake and some of his friends, the senior year in school goes from idyllic to totally mixed-up to going into a positive path. The reason is religion in Jakeís life.
 
Suicide is final. As we go into Jakeís thoughts and read what Roger has written, we begin to see that the person felt lost, alone and without hope. Friendship just wasnít there and neither was there a religious experience. Life felt empty for them. An emotion that scars witnesses, friends, family and the community for a lifetime. 
 
Before becoming a sports hero, Jake was best budís with Roger. In high school, they grew apart and Jake has a girlfriend, Amy, who has problems of her own, and a sports rival, Doug, the party guy. After the death of Roger, the only one seemingly concerned is Jake, until he meets Chris, youth leader at a local church. While attending youth meetings, Jake meets other new friends like Billy and Andrea. Then there is Danny, the head pastorís son, whose behavior is rebellious. At home, the teens have parents who are absorbed in their jobs, so hanging together is essential to form a sort of family and this is what helps Jake. It is when Amy has problems that Jake doesnít know how to handle, emotions escalate. Jakeís new friend, Jonny, who bears more than a striking resemblance to the attitude of the late Roger, doesnít understand and is teetering on the brink.
 
Life in a contemporary high school is well written from security guards to teachers to behavior of kids in class. High school years are formative and crucial to the development of a well-rounded person. Reading about what kids face today can be an eye-opener as we see them through Jakeís eyes. The book matches the film well and gives you more personal information than gained from the movie. You get into the kidís heads in the novel. ďTo Save A LifeĒ is well-written and flows well, definitely a page-turner. Though there is a Christian influence here, the reader isnít knocked over with rhetoric, instead, you gain insight into youth groups and the need to belong being fulfilled in a positive way.  
 
Reviewed by Marie Asner 2010
 
*Note: a film based on the novel, To Save A Life and written by Jim Britts is out now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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