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How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 18, 2011
Summary 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.
OK, I read this book, like, two or three weeks ago, and I've been sitting on it ever since, knowing I have to review it, and knowing I can't possibly explain just how much I love it. Therefore, I don't think this will be a very long review--suffice it to say that I loved it and I think most of you will love it, too.
The story is told in alternate points of view--Mandy and Jill. The first chapter belongs to Mandy, and I got about twenty pages in before that chapter actually set in, and I had to go back and read it again. You can totally relate to each girl during their chapters. There is so much sadness in this story, and at the same time, there is hope. It's amazing. I'm not gushing as much as I feel I should be, which is what I was afraid of. I love how Sara Zarr develops the relationships between all of the characters--everyone is so heart-breakingly real.
I think the only thing that could have improved this story at all (and I realize this is way unconventional for YA lit) is to allow Jill's mom to have a view chapters of her own. Really, this story is about her as much as it is the girls--indeed, she is the catalyst that brings Mandy and Jill together--and I couldn't help but wish that we were allowed to know exactly what she was thinking. Granted, I'm an adult reading young adult literature, and I understand that most teens are probably not that interested, but still...
A note on the cover: my ARC looks just like the final cover, but there's no one sitting on either bench. I totally love that the publisher left two pairs of footprints, but put someone sitting on just one of the benches. It adds to the sadness.
Seriously, just go read this book.
ARC received from publisher.
Enjoy your reading!