How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Title: How to Save a Life
Author: Sara Zarr
Series: N/A
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 10/18/2011
Length: 341 pages
Format: ARC
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic, Young Adult
Challenges: N/A
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Purchase: Hardcover | Kindle | NOOK | Kobo
Rating: ★★★★★

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends–everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted–to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy–or as difficult–as it seems.

Phenomenal. I totally understand all the praise for Sara Zarr. She’s such a terrific writer. This book was real, emotional, sad, and heart warming all at the same time. She is seriously one of the best YA writers out there.

At it’s core, this is the story of two very different girls who are thrown together over some extenuating circumstances. Zarr perfectly captures the soul of these characters from the start. The story is told from Jill’s and Mandy’s perspectives in alternating chapters. It only took two chapters for me to fall in love with the character writing. It’s perfect! There’s so much raw emotion. They’re both just so real. I couldn’t imagine being in either of their situations.

I definitely identified more with Jill than with Mandy (though I loved both of them in their own ways). I think it’s just that her situation affected me so much more. Not to get too personal, but my dad has been sick for a while and I just don’t know what I’d do if I lost him. Not to mention that Jill was much closer with her father than her mother. Now, I’m not saying you should have a favorite parent, but almost everyone had the parent that “gets them” more than the other one. Losing that parent could put a strain on the relationship with the other parent. It’s just a lot for someone so young to go through.

I know this review has been more about the characters than anything else, but that was the part that really stood out for me. They were just so real and the development was great, and I feel like that was really the focus of the story. I must read more Sara Zarr. She captures human nature and all its imperfections with real beauty.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve heard only great things about this book and I can’t wait to read it too.
    Great review! I hope I’ll like this story as much as you did 🙂


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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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