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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to Save a Life, Sara Zarr

Oh Sara Zarr, how I do love thee...

From the Publisher: 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.

Strengths:  Last summer I listened to Sara Zarr's Once was Lost and I was completely sucked in by that book.  So much so that I can still remember it a year later.  This is the same experience I had with How to Save a Life. I had to know what was going to happen next and I continually waned to get in the car to listen to the next installment.  Normally, I am not a big fan of the car.  And when you are responsible for 16 libraries, this can be a problem...I really liked the character development in this story.

Weaknesses: Not entirely a weakness, but I am sometimes frustrated with alternating voice stories because they can be jarring.  I'm rolling along with a character and then, bam! I've dropped one story line and am on to the other. Once I get into a groove with a story and become used to the alternating voices, I'm usually fine, as was the case with this story.  I wonder, however, if it might turn off some readers before they get into that groove. I was not a huge fan of the ending of this story, either.  It seemed a little too pat. It was certainly a best case scenario, but too unlikely I thought.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

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