Book Review: Saving Red by Sonya Sones

Molly waited until the last minute to fulfill her school’s community service requirement for the semester. So the night before she must turn it in, she volunteers to help with the city’s annual homeless count. It’s then that she meets Red, a homeless girl who’s only a few years older than she is. She soon makes it her goal to bring Red home for the holidays. But when Molly realizes that Red hears voices inside her head and has hallucinations, she realizes this may be harder than she originally thought. She becomes worried about Red and tries to keep her safe. But with the holidays almost here, she’s running out of time. She just might be too late.

Molly was a 14 year old girl who had something traumatic happen a year ago and thinks its all her fault. She doesn’t want to talk about it in the beginning of the book, but later talks about it at the end. It’s then revealed that her older brother, Noah, had PTSD and disappeared a year ago on New Year’s Eve. That night her parents had went to a party next door and left Molly alone with Noah, making it her job to watch him. Noah wasn’t supposed to be left alone, but Molly got tired of watching him and decided to go out for ice cream with her friends. When she gets back, Noah is nowhere to be found and he still hasn’t been found a year later. Since she was supposed to be watching him, Molly blames herself for his disappearance and thinks its all her fault.

Now she has anxiety and her dog Pixel serves as an emotional support animal to help her with that anxiety. When Molly helps out with the homeless count, she sees Red, but doesn’t talk to her. The next day, though, she talks to her and they soon become friends. A couple days later, she meets Cristo on the Ferris wheel at the pier and they spend the rest of the day together. But the next day he has to leave with his family to go to New York, so that’s the last time they see each other for now. They talk on phone and text, but one day, he suddenly stops responding. Meanwhile Molly’s still trying to figure out how to reunite Red with her family while keeping her safe. She finds out this is harder than she thought, since Red doesn’t like accepting charity. It especially becomes harder after she realizes Red has hallucinations and delusions. She later finds out that Red has schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness where a person has both schizophrenia and bipolar symptoms.

Overall I thought Molly was easy to like and relatable. Like I said, she was trying to do a nice thing by trying to reunite Red with her family and stayed with her even after she found out about Red’s mental illness. She said she did that because that’s how she would want someone to treat her brother if they found him.

Throughout the story, Red’s schizoaffective disorder gets worse to the point where one morning she tries to commit suicide by jumping in front of a car. Luckily, Molly is able to stop her. Afterwards Red realizes that she needs help and asks Molly to call the hospital.

Saving Red ended on a hopeful note, but left you wanting to know more.

Saving Red was over 400 pages long, but was written in verse so it didn’t take too long to read. It was an interesting and enjoyable book about mental illness and friendship. I recommend it to anyone looking for a book about schizoaffective disorder, anxiety, mental health, or something that’s contemporary or realistic.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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