Something Worth Saving
By Sandi Ward
Author Website: sandiwardbooks(.)com
Sandi Ward’s shrewdly observed, funny, and wonderfully touching novel tells of a fractured family, a teenage boy, and a remarkable cat whose loyalty knows no bounds . . .
A boy and his cat. It’s an unconventional friendship, perhaps, but for Charlie and Lily, it works beautifully. It was Charlie who chose Lily from among all the cats in the shelter. He didn’t frown, the way other humans did, when he saw her injured back leg, the legacy of a cruel previous owner. Instead, Charlie insisted on rescuing her. Now Lily wants to do the same for Charlie.
She’s the only one who’s seen the bruises on Charlie’s body. If she knew who was hurting him, she’d scratch their eyes out. But she can’t fix this by herself. Lily needs to get the rest of the family to focus on Charlie–not easy when they’re wrapped up in their own problems. Charlie’s mother kicked his father out weeks ago and has a new boyfriend who seems charming, but is still a stranger. Oldest son Kevin misses his father desperately. Victoria, Charlie’s sister, also has someone new in her life, and Lily is decidedly suspicious. Even Charlie’s father, who Lily loves dearly, is behaving strangely.
Lily knows what it’s like to feel helpless. But she also knows that you don’t always have to be the biggest or the strongest to fight fiercely for the ones you love . . . (Goodreads)
Something Worth Saving is a wonderful, heartwarming novel that captivated me from the first page and kept me riveted throughout! Told from the perspective of Lily, 14-year-old Charlie’s cream and tan tabby cat and best friend, it shows the powerful bond between a feline and her favorite person. It is the first novel I read by this author and it won’t be the last! The characters are primarily defined through Lily’s observations, and the plot demonstrates family situations that occur all too often today – yet each has something worth saving. One thing we learn from Lily is that people are rarely what they seem to be – each has a deep well of experiences, joys, and heartaches that are part of who they are today.
Charlie’s father Jeremy had taken him to adopt a pet when he found Lily, a frightened, lonely kitten whose siblings had all been adopted. Charlie wasn’t bothered by her injured leg. Sure, her gait was a little different, but the two had already fallen in love with each other. Jeremy had no problem, as she and Charlie certainly belonged together. Charlie was a little different, also, but Lily doesn’t know what that difference is until well into the novel. They quickly grow as close as a human and cat can be.
Jeremy had been asked by Mom (Kate) several weeks earlier to move out. Kate has been sad since then, trying to manage her important job, the house and repairs, and children. Kevin is the oldest teen, and Victoria is the middle daughter. She has a creepy boyfriend, Aidan, who comes to visit every day. Charlie is very careful around him and often seems sad. Gretel is Jeremy’s dog, a German Shepherd, but stays at the house to help protect the family.
We open to Lily observing fading bruises on Charlie’s side, and she knows it isn’t the first time. She realizes he is being hurt by someone, and if she knew who it was, she would scratch his eyes out. Charlie had left school early this day, and it isn’t the first time. This time, Jeremy allows the school to send the police to the house to check on him and impress on him that if he needs to leave school, he can call his dad. Charlie begged to not have to go to Jeremy’s for the weekend with his brother and sister, but his parents want him to spend time with his father when they have visitation on weekends.
A friend, neighbor, and fellow church member, Vincent, has been helping Mom with repairs and remodeling at her house. His wife has cancer, so his time has been consumed with her care and hospital stay. He is a contractor, adept at almost anything the home needs, but he hires a helper who knows very little about using tools or reading plans. Mark is a kind man, and he begins to show an interest in Kate. As a baker at a local restaurant, he also begins to bring some goods left over from the morning shift when he comes to work on the house. Neither Kevin nor Dad like Mark, even though his is kind and respectful. Mark has secrets, also; Lily can feel the sorrow and pain in him. Whether Lily can help discover who is hurting Charlie and help the family heal from other challenges will carry readers through an eventful story of the Anderson family dynamics.
Lily describes actions, conversations, and her intuition to define the characters, and does a fine job. I would love to think that my feline companions are as attentive to me as I am to them, and Lily is to Charlie! In many ways I can see her behaviors in them even while trying to understand the humans in her life through her observations. It is not at all childish or silly; adults of all ages can appreciate it. It is purely delightful at times, and heartbreaking at other times, yet I could feel a bond with this family and, of course, Lily. Some characters change dramatically through the story, one in particular for the better and one seems to be for the worse.
The plot includes twists and turns, many of which are not anticipated. There are moments of tremendous suspense, and we see the loyalty of Gretel along with that of Lily. I had very mixed feelings about the ending and thought about it for days afterwards before coming to terms with it. Overall it is very satisfying, and I highly recommend it to those who appreciate cats, families in crisis or change, and know the joy of the love of a loyal feline best friend.