"Happy families are all alike. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Leo Tolstoy might not have had the families of Kelly Braffet's dark new novel, Save Yourself
in mind when he wrote those words, but he might as well have.
On the one hand there is the Cusimano family: Patrick and Ryan Cusimano are brothers living in the huge shadow of their father's crime. Years ago, when Patrick was still a teenager, his father killed a child in a drunk driving accident. It was Patrick who eventually called the police leaving him and his brother effectively without parents. That tragedy, as well as their father's alcoholism, forever haunt the brothers. As the book opens, they are young adults getting by on minimum wage jobs, sharing their childhood home with Ryan's girlfriend who also works an unfulfilling job as waitress at a local restaurant in the...
Beyond the Book
In Save Yourself
, Patrick Cusimano works at Zoney's, a 24-hour convenience store in a small fictional town in Pennsylvania called Ratchetsburg. He finds his candy-striped uniform and the sterile atmosphere of the place stifling, yet work here is one of just a few options for town residents. From what Braffet describes, it seems like Zoney's is the only food store around for miles. Such areas, where access to fresh produce and food is quite limited, are labeled "food deserts."
According to the USDA, an area qualifies as a food desert if it is both a "low-income" community and also a...