Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Title: How to Save a Life
Author: Sara Zarr
Year Published: 2011

Genre: YA fiction
Pages:341
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Challenges:
Geography Connection (my Google Reading map): USA (Colorado)


FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the back of the book): Jill MacSweeney 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 its 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.

Review:  I read this book because I had finished a book at work and it was staring me in the face from the "new books" shelf at my library. And the woman I work with in the library read it and liked it. I am glad I picked it up.

Jill and Mandy are both believable and likable characters. They are human in that they are certainly flawed and I liked that. Jill is grieving the death of her father, pushing everyone away even though she is angry and lonely. Mandy lies... a lot. But, it is a protective behavior brought on in reaction to her living situation. Her mother's entire existence is based on looking good for men and she has instilled that belief in Mandy. Mandy has been told she is stupid and worthless, has been abused by her mother's boyfriend, and feels that she isn't worth the time and effort Jill's family is giving her.

The themes of this book are self-acceptance, learning to trust, moving on and learning from tragedy, and how taking charge of one's situation and attitude can make a huge difference. Both Jill and Mandy learn to trust others as well as themselves. What I really liked was that even though there are important "lessons" in this book, the story is a good one. I wanted to know what Mandy and Jill were going to do, who they would date, and how it was all going to end.

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