Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life
Sara Zarr
October 2011
Reading Level: YA

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.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.
Sara Zarr has always had the ability to "Wow" me with her writing, her characters, and her stories. How to Save a Life is no exception- once again I have been sucked into the story, falling in love with the characters and never wanting the book to end.

Jill and Mandy are two entirely different characters. Jill's life has always been "easy," until the death of her father, which turns her world upside-down. Mandy's life has always been hard, but when she becomes pregnant she sees it as an opportunity to escape the life that has been set for her by her mother and her unfortunate circumstances.

When these girls get thrown together, crazy things are destined to happen.

I absolutely adored the way that Sara Zarr executed this novel. It's not just another story about the death of a parent, and not just another story about a teen pregnancy. It's a little of both, combined into one, but with characters who are unique and refreshing. I can understand why someone reading this book may not "like" the characters, but the way I see it is that they are bitter and different as a result of their circumstances, and there is significant development by the end of the book. Sure, they are both extremely flawed, and probably not the nicest or easiest characters to relate to, but they are realistic and that is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading about them so much.

I'd say that the best part of the book is the self-discovery. These girls have set out on a journey that everyone goes through at some point or another- a search for themselves. Mandy has spent her life listening to her mother, who has a ridiculous idea of the world, while Jill has spent her life listening to her father. Neither of them have found an identity of their own, and this book shows that. I felt like I was part of the girls' journey, and it was absolutely beautiful to read. Sara Zarr has done it yet again...
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