In her stirring debut novel, Lila Savage explores the complexity of human connection through Ella, a young caregiver who begins work with a brain injured woman and her devoted husband, joining their household and to an extent their struggles, an act that will have repercussions on all of her relationships. The intimacy and honesty laid bare is an unexpected privilege – reading rarely feels so worthwhile. At one point, Ella says that she wants to be “ferocious in her kindness,” and this is exactly what Savage has been with her writing, by bringing subtle, beautiful, intense light to the human relationship in its most tender and demanding state.
July 2019 Indie Next List
“Say Say Say is a small and subtle debut novel that packs an emotional wallop. Lila Savage’s writing is so beautiful and vulnerable it’s impossible to put down. This is the kind of novel that shines with such honestly and compassion you feel the need re-evaluate your life right along the main character, Ella. I eagerly await reading anything else Savage writes.”
— Katerina Argyres, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA
One of the The Wall Street Journal's 10 Best Fiction Books of 2019
"A gem of a book . . . lyrical, tender, and profoundly insightful."--Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
Ella is nearing thirty, and not yet living the life she imagined. Her artistic ambitions as a student have given way to an unintended career in caregiving. One spring, Bryn—a retired carpenter—hires her to help him care for his wife Jill, who was left verbally diminished after a car crash.
As Ella is drawn into the couple's household, she finds that this is unlike the other caregiving jobs she’s held. She is profoundly moved by the tenderness Bryn shows toward the wife he still fiercely loves, and she’s startled by the yearning this awakens in her. She finds herself looking differently at her relationship with her girlfriend, Alix, and questioning what she knows about relationships of all kinds—between partners, between employer and employee, and above all between men and women. Say Say Say is a powerful story about what it means to love in a world where time is always running out.
About the Author
LILA SAVAGE is originally from Minneapolis. Prior to writing fiction, she spent nearly a decade working as a caregiver. She lives in San Francisco.
“Subversive. . . . A riveting story and a meditation on work, loss, intimacy, and desire.” —Ottessa Moshfegh, GQ
“The paradox of goodness lies at the heart of Lila Savage’s small, prismatic gem of a novel. . . . Like its heroic and relentlessly self-questioning main character, the book reaches heights of revelatory beauty without once raising its voice or clamoring for attention.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Inspiring, truly memorable—beautifully drawn; intellectually and emotionally gripping. . . . Say Say Say is perceptive in its commentary, and edifying in its humanity.” —The Washington Times
“Vivid. . . . Wise and understated. . . . In the novel’s quietly radical choice of subject matter and its open-eyed, open-hearted curiosity, it illuminates both the intimate dramas usually hidden behind closed doors, and the shifting mysteries of personality and relationship.” —The Guardian
“Brisk, intimate.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Lyrical. . . . [Savage’s] insight . . . comes through on every page in incisive and beautiful language. . . . In this deceptively simple book, the reader, too, receives an honest and empathetic opportunity to consider loneliness and the people whose labor gets bought to alleviate it.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Elegant . . . [Say Say Say] transport[s] you. . . . Savage follows the opposite arcs of these [characters] with such kindness (that’s the only word for it), even the most difficult moments of the story feel buffered by grace.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“I was hungry for this novel before I knew it existed. . . . The novel is full of complexity and page after page of piercing insights. . . . [A] strange and gorgeous book.” —Electric Literature
“A breakthrough in women’s fiction.” —The New Republic