Charlie, Kevin, Victoria, Jeremy, Kate, Lily, and Gretel are a family in distress.
Victor, Mark, and Ronaldo enter their lives, and things get even more complicated.
This family has more issues to deal with than than most families, I think...I hope...but families are complicated, and there's no getting around that. Some of the issues covered in Something Worth Saving are:
prescription drug addiction
mental health issues
adult friendships and relationships
retired police dogs
family relationships with pets
cat personality and behavior
Something Worth Saving is told from Charlie's cat, Lily's perspective. I'm pretty on top of these kinds of stories because I love dogs and cats already, so you can probably imagine why I volunteered to read this in the first place. I do think it helps the reader to have affection for animals to really understand the nuances of the story...especially Lily's narration
Lily, whose full name is Lily J. Potter (love this) truly cares about her family...like only a cat can. Lily and retired police dog, Gretel have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship within the household. They don't necessarily love each other, but they realize that each existence benefits the other, especially if they work together. As much as I loved Lily's voice and personality, Gretel also tugged at my heartstrings. I'm a German Shepherd mama myself so I could see Gretel's downtrodden face as Jeremy leaves her behind. I could see her waiting for him, and I've literally seen that confusion and distress that occurs when the dog is unsure what she did wrong...even if she's done nothing wrong.
Dealing with the range of emotions the family goes through (as evidenced by the list above), it's hard not to feel like you are part of the family...not really one of them...but you know them so well that you want what's best for all of them.
Yes, the list of struggles is long, but Ward weaves them together so that it doesn't seem like they are just thrown in. They overlap and mingle...one leading to another, some consequences of others. The sins of the parents and all that...
One issue that I felt Ward did a really nice job of was Charlie's coming to terms with his gender identity. Ward doesn't present this as a major family problem, and even though everyone is not thrilled about the prospect, most are cautiously supportive. This is just the beginning for Charlie, so nothing is hashed out completely, nor did I think it should be.
I don't think this family's problems are over, but I don't think Ward misleads you into thinking this is happily ever after story.
I enjoyed this story and have put Ward's first novel, The Astonishing Thing on my Amazon Wishlist to read soon.
There must be a way Gretel and I could work together to repair this family. There is something worth saving in this family - a love that connects all of us and binds us together. I include Dad in this even though he has moved out, and Mark even though he is new. Like raindrops plunking onto the river, causing overlapping circles of waves, each member of our family impacts the next. (243)
Sometimes the one who receives our love is a very good baby who does not live long. Sometimes, it is a strange man who shows up to build a bookshelf. And sometimes, it is an absolutely gorgeous cat with a funny limp who fits right into the crook of your arm. (302)
Sandi Ward writes books about love, family, forgiveness…and cats.