Review: How to Save a Life by Kristin Harmel

Posted April 26, 2016 in Review / 9 Comments

Review: How to Save a Life by Kristin Harmel

How to Save a Life

by Kristin Harmel
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star on April 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 208
Format: eARC

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Groundhog Day meets Grey’s Anatomy in this heartfelt novella with a hint of magic from the internationally bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended, in which a woman with only a short time to live discovers she can repeat the same day over and over until her life feels complete.

When a pediatric oncology nurse receives a devastating prognosis—she has just weeks left to live—she finds unexpected comfort from a patient. Her young friend shares a life- and death-changing secret: it is possible to live the same day over and over again until she’s experienced a truly full life. Thus begins a heartbreaking and joyful journey of love, friendship, and self-discovery, as the brave nurse only truly learns how to live in the face of death. Kristin Harmel, whose work has been called “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), “absorbing…well-paced and warmhearted” (Kirkus Reviews), and “absolutely enthralling” (Fresh Fiction), infuses her poignant, uplifting novella with a dash of magic and a hefty dose of heart.

Heart-Breaking Insta-Love Tear Jerker


Normally, I wouldn’t pick up a book that looks anything like this.  The cover reminds me of a woman’s contemporary novel and I’m just not drawn to that kind of drama.  I need happy ever afters and I want them sweet and perfect.  Here’s what I saw in the synopsis of How to Save a Life:

“When a PEDIATRIC oncology nurse receives a devastating prognosis—she has just weeks left to LIVE—she finds unexpected comfort from a patient.”

– no, just NOOOOO  … don’t make me do it!!

So why did I read this story?!?!  Here’s why:

  • Jill is 39 years old and has been living for her job.  Her mother passed away five years ago and her relationship with her father is extremely strained.  She has no boyfriend but she’s sure she has time to make that family she’s always wanted.  I’ve been there and felt that way.  Don’t we all?  Status quo is good enough, why try harder for a dream?  Why bother forgiving, we have all the time in the world…
  • Jill’s patients, the kids in the pediatric oncology ward, are absolutely incredible and it rips my heart out when I hear or think about any child having a debilitating disease, let alone a terminal disease.  But in reading this incredible story by Ms. Harmel, she gave me knowledge and insight into the world of hope, love, and acceptance that I would hopefully never be able to relate to in the future personally.  Ms. Harmel dedicated this book to her father, a pediatric surgeon, a truly noble career.
  • This story had a touch of “magic” in it – the entire “Groundhog Day” effect that Jill was able to take advantage of.  Jill, with help from some special friends, was able to live part of a life she was going to miss out on.  But what is the life you want to live?  Better yet, what is the life you should live if you only have days to live?  Those were the kind of questions that Ms. Harmel was able to touch on in this pretty short story.  And she even managed to not go over my head with her discussion of the answers.  It helped that the dialogue was between an adult and a child.  I can relate to kid-thinking 🙂
  • Finally, this story is SHORT!  At only 208 ebook pages, I read this in a day.  No huge commitment, no loss if the story sucked.  And closure was quick.

By the way, the ending was abso-freaking perfect!  Many, MANY tissues were harmed in the reading of this story…

About Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is an international bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into numerous languages and are sold all over the world. After spending many years as a journalist (including more than a decade writing and reporting for People magazine) Kristin now freelances only occasionally, focusing on book tours, book club visits and, of course, writing her next books! THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING was a bestseller in many countries and in fact won the reader’s choice prize for Romantic Novel of the Year in Germany in 2013. Her new novel, THE LIFE INTENDED, is out now from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Kristin graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Miami and now resides in Orlando, Fla., with her husband, Jason.



About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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Finally, FINALLY fixed! After days lost trying to fix... ;)

9 responses to “Review: How to Save a Life by Kristin Harmel

    • If I survived, you’ll survive 😉 It wasn’t that bad, but I DID think of you while reading this, know what I mean???

  1. This sounds so moving, I will probably cry all the way through but putting this one on my to read list. Thanks for the great review.