Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

How to Save a LifeHow to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Hardcover, 341 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review Copy: NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble
Description From Goodreads:
Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to 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. You can’t lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that’s exactly what it feels like she’s trying to do. And that’s decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows 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, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about what it means to be a family and the many roads we can take to become one.

My Review:

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This was my first Sara Zarr book, but it certainly will not be my last.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I requested “How to Save a Life” on NetGalley. I’d heard wonderful things about this novel beforehand, all of which turned out to be true. What’s wonderful about “How to Save a Life” is that it’s a story in which we can all relate to in one way or another. It’s real. It’s gripping.

There comes a point in everyone’s life when it all becomes too much. When the grief ears away at us. When the desire for a better life becomes great. Switching between two perspectives – Jill, who is still dealing with her father’s death, and Mandy, who wants a better life for her unborn child – Zarr crafts a beautifully honest story. Both Jill and Mandy are searching for something more – for something better. The journey that Jill and Mandy take through out “How to Save a Life” is an important one. It’s a journey of healing,

This book managed to break my heart and then slowly piece it back together again. And for that, I say fantastic job, Sara Zarr.

“How to Save a Life” is one of the best books of 2011 by far.

A quote from “How to Save a Life”:

“No I don’t,” I say instantly, and just as instantly I regret it. Why can’t I simply say yes to him? What am I proving, except that I still don’t know how to concede that, like anyone else, I don’t want to be spinning off into the universe all alone? That sometimes I’m wrong, that sometimes I screw up, that sometimes I require mercy. From friend. From my mom, my dad. That right now I want Dylan’s most of all. Even with all of these brilliant, self-aware insights, I push open the door of the restaurant and say, “I don’t need anything.”

View all my reviews

Thank you, Little Brown for granting my NetGalley request.


Posted on November 7, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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