Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

“If you’re unsure about your e-mail work product — save it as a draft and reread it over and over again until you’re sure. Don’t send anything until you’re sure.” – Save as Draft

Cavanaugh Lee’s Save as Draft is a witty and compelling first novel that explores the ups and downs of love and relationships in a uniquely modern way: the entire book is a series of emails, sent or saved; text messages; and Facebook status updates that eschew a traditional narrative format.

The story centers on Izabell, a ‘wactress’ (waiter/actress) turned Atlanta attorney (as is Lee herself), who signs up for eHarmony at her best friends’ urging to get back in the dating game. Izzy soon finds herself with more than she bargained for when things get complicated with her best guy friend just before she has the “best first date ever” — with someone else. Suddenly Izzy has not one, but two men in the running, and just when everything is at its best a new project manager arrives and sets Izzy’s perfect world on edge. As the year goes on Izzy must determine how far she will go to keep her dream come true.

The story unfolds in short bursts of messages that provide a seamless progression of details, so much at times that the reader may feel somewhat voyeuristic. Not all of the emails have been sent, however; a good number of the messages (both to and from Izzy) are saved in draft form so that we can see not only what her characters say but also what they want to say. It is clear that each draft message has the potential to change the story arc completely, and more than once I found myself playing the “what-if” game while reading them.

Lee keeps the story fresh with three-dimensional supporting characters who provide both clear perspectives and levity to a story that at moments can be overwhelmingly sad. Perhaps the most important thing that Save as Draft has to offer, though, is that it is incredibly easy for the reader to relate to the story and to Lee’s laid-back style. Emails from “Facebook” and “eHarmony” are represented accurately (as a veteran online dater, I can attest) and contribute to the sensation that you’re reading your friends’ emails instead of a fictional story.

Save as Draft is a funny, heartfelt, and genuine take on the trials and triumphs of real-world relationships, and a great read for those quiet moments between emails.

Rating: 5/5

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her boyfriend and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, Reaching for the Moon, working on her first novel, and working with high school and college students in a local Model United Nations program.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.