Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr Review

How to Save a Life
By Sara Zarr

Oct. 18, 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 352 pages
Source: 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.

— description

I can’t stop thinking about this book. And that actually shocks me. Because it’s about teen pregnancy. Which I don’t like to read about. Which is why it took me months to read it after I picked it up at BookExpo America earlier this year.

But here’s the thing, it’s also by Sara Zarr. The woman who brought me Cameron Quick and one of my favorite book covers of all time (Sweethearts). So why did I ever doubt her?

No clue. I’m such a fool. Instead of being preachy and all made-for-TV-movie-ish, this book is equal parts serious and swoony. And it’s more than just a book about a kid who got knocked up. It’s also about death and hope and BOYS and family.

Jill and Mandy, our narrators, did piss me off sometimes. But in a good way in which I’m like “Wow, I think this book is challenging my emotions and thought processes. Sneaky Sara Zarr!”

But, okay, honesty moment: One of the real reasons I can’t stop thinking about it is because Sara Zarr has created a boy who, in my opinion, seriously gives Cameron Quick a run for his money. SERIOUSLY I LOVE HIM.

I’ll let you figure out who he is for yourself because that’s part of the fun of the book, but seriously, don’t make the same mistake I did -- read this book STAT. It’s a keeper.

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. I love your reviews. So quick, yet ramrod straight (I've always wanted to say that, even though WTF does it mean? Am I even saying it right?) to the point. That being said, I ALSO dislike reading (or watching shows about) teen pregnancy. But the fact that you like this so much intrigues me.

  2. Ok you inspired me, I'll give it a try ;)) I love the title of this book! It reminds me of that beautiful song of The Fray. Yeey I will read it for sure!!

    Thanks Anna! :)

  3. Gahhhh. What's up with all the fantastic reviews today?! Makes me want to quit my job, go home, and read for the rest of my life.

  4. Ugh, we haven't read any Sara Zarr. We're the worst! Which one do you think we should start with, though?

  5. I also don't like reading (or watching) anything about teen pregnancy but seriously, this is Sara Zarr. I will read everything by her.

    BTW, you can't be serious about that. NO ONE can match Cameron Quick's greatness. No one.

  6. I haven't read any of Sarah Zarr's books but will be fixing that SOON.

  7. I just had to add a comment to say "I agree! Read this!"

  8. I've seen several great reviews of this one. I have just officially added it to my tbr list. Thanks for the review.

  9. A BOOK THAT GIVES CAMERON QUICK A RUN FOR HIS MONEY?!?!?!?! No way! Cameron is one of my favorites as is Sweethearts! Now I'm DYING to read this! :P

  10. I haven't read anything by this author...but I guess I need to! Soon! Teen pregnancy books aren't usually my cup of tea, but I trust you. I'll have to give this one a shot.

  11. Thanks for reviewing this - I've been curious about it but haven't read it yet. (Weirdly I haven't read any Sara Zarr books yet...)

    I'll have to make sure this doesn't end up at the end of my TBR list!

  12. Oh Cameron Quick. I'm with you there, sister. I've been meaning to read her other novels, too, but haven't gotten around to it. Don't know if you've read her post, but this was tweeted out the other day about the book and made me feel inspired to read it (as well as your review, of course):

  13. oh i insanely loved this book as well.

    my fave zarr so far <3

    love the review. and i agree re giving cameron quick a run for his money :)


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