Saturday, January 07, 2012

How To Save A Life (YA)

How To Save a Life. Sara Zarr. 2011. Little, Brown. 342 pages.

"I am writing in response to your Love Grows post from Christmas day. I think I might have what you're looking for. It should be available on March 1. Or around March 1."

How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr is narrated by two teens, Jill and Mandy. Mandy is pregnant and wanting to give her baby up for adoption. She thinks Robin, Jill's mom, would be a good match. But she doesn't exactly want the adoption to go through normal, traditional channels. She wants things done her way. Robin wants a baby so badly. She is just desperate to fill the hole in her heart. You see, Robin and Jill are in grief--probably different stages of grief. Jill's Dad is dead, you see. Jill was always, always, always closer to her Dad. And she isn't quite sure how to (best) relate to her Mom. To be honest, Jill isn't sure how to relate to anybody these days. Not her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Dylan. Not her former best friends. No one. Anyone who challenges her to feel something...she runs from...until she meets someone from her past. A boy named Ravi. He may just help her see things clearly for the first time in months....

So Robin invites Mandy into their home. She welcomes her into their lives. She's willing to pay for all the expenses of the pregnancy. She is just so excited about the coming baby. Jill? Well, Jill is less than thrilled about getting a new brother or sister. In fact, she's ANGRY at her mom and angry at Mandy. What did Mandy ever do to her? Well, nothing really. But Jill is angry at her all the same. She is determined to not like her, determined to find reasons why this adoption is insane. She is sure that Mandy has more than a few secrets, has told more than a few lies...

Mandy has told a few lies...but are they justifiable? You may be the judge of that!

This is a compelling novel to be sure. It is emotional. It is well written. Of the two, I probably loved Mandy just a little bit more. Maybe because she needed to be loved a little more. I'll say no more than that. But even though Jill could be a mess, I still liked her, I still wanted the best for her. I wanted to see her wounds heal too.

I would definitely recommend this one!

Read How To Save A Life
  • If you're a fan of Sara Zarr and you enjoyed her previous novels: Story of a Girl, Sweethearts, Once Was Lost
  • If you're looking for an emotionally compelling (but not manipulative) read
  • If you're looking for a good story about grief and loss 
  • If you're looking for a story about broken families that need healing
  • If you're looking for a realistic portrayal of teen pregnancy
The book trailer:



© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

5 comments:

Chris 2:16 PM  

Ooooh, this sounds really good! I STILL haven't read anything by Sara Zarr...And I have a couple of her books...mostly because of your fault :p

Becky 2:23 PM  

Chris, I think you would definitely enjoy this one! It was so good!!!

Jessica 2:50 PM  

Thanks for this review! It sounds great, and I've been meaning to read another Sara Zarr book. I read SWEETHEARTS and liked but didn't love it. Perhaps this one will win me over.

alisonwonderland 5:44 PM  

My daughter and I went to the launch of How to Save a Life several months ago. It was great hearing Sara Zarr talk about and read from the book. It's definitely on my to-read-soon list!

Sherry 5:32 PM  

i read this book a couple of months ago, but I still haven't written my review. Now I'm not sure I can, even though I liked the book very much. DO you discipline yourself to write your reviews as soon as you've finished a book? If so, how do you do that? I've been thinking about rewarding myself with candy :)

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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