How to Save a Life – A Review by Allison

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How to Save a Life
Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Lake Union Publishing
July 14, 2020
301 pages

Remember the movie “Groundhog Day”?  It starred Bull Murray as a weatherman who – while stuck in a small, cold little town- inadvertently lives one day over and over (and over) again until he gets it right.  Add in Andie McDowell (that HAIR! Did anyone else ever wish for those curls? I know I did) for a sweet little romance, all filmed in Woodstock, IL!

Steinke and Fenton tell a modern version of “Groundhog Day” in their book, “How To Save a Life”.

Ten years ago, Mia and Dom broke up.  When run into each other at a random coffee house on Thursday, June 11th, he believes it is fate and asks her out.  And she accepts.

But, here’s the thing.

Mia dies on their date. {Pretty tragically I may add- kudos to Steinke and Fenton for that scene; they could have gone an easier, simpler route, but they went pretty aggressive right out of the gate on how we lose Mia. Nailed it}.

But wait, there’s more. When Dom wakes up the next morning (to the Fray’s “How to Save a Life”) and remembers the night before, he also realizes something strange. It’s Thursday, June 11th.


This time, however, he has all the memories of the FIRST June 11th that he lived yesterday.

And realizes he has a second chance.

So begins the tale of Dom vowing to save Mia’s life.


I love books that make me take inventory of my life. That make me think.  Sometimes we don’t even know- until confronted- that we hold long buried feelings and regrets.  Sometimes, it is easier to pack them away and just forget. If we had the chance- really had a chance to relive a day (or two or three)- what would we do?  What would we change?  Would we censor and hold back because of fear? Or would we take chances and RISK? Would we be different people?  Would we care more?  Would we stand up for ourselves and fight for what we believe if we didn’t fear answering to our actions the next day?

Steinke and Fenton have a wonderful, choreographed way of developing their characters throughout their books (check out “The Two Lila Bennetts”, “The Good Widow” and “The Status of All Things” if you want to read more from them), and we learn a lot about both Dom and Mia while the story is being told. The authors hint at a “reason” as to why Mia is back- and it is hinted at being a big one. Each “Thursday”, as Dom makes his way through his day, we get a little bit more of their story.

Obviously to me the concept was fascinating. Being stuck in a time loop, Dom has the opportunity to help many secondary characters; he “saves” others’ lives throughout this story, and I think, he ultimately saves his own. We meet two specific characters and see how their mere existence changes Dom. The end of the story does circle back and close the loop (See what I did there? Not even sorry.) so everything is ultimately answered, but not so obvious that one would guess the ending before its time.

Overall, a great read. One I would recommend to anyone looking for a bit of an escape into a story that makes you question how you would save a life, given the chance.

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