Saturday, July 21, 2012

How to Save a Life: My new favorite author!

How to Save a Life
By Sara Zarr
Hardcover, 341 pages
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, October 2011

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 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.

Pricky's Review
5 Sparkly Stars on Goodreads

Let me just start off by saying, I'm not typically a fan of contemporary fiction, let alone chick-lits. I've tried and died so many times that I'd just about given up on the entire genre. (Believe me. I've tried all the "popular" ones.) But then my favorite author Bree Despain gushed about Sara Zarr and then, someone else did and again someone else of course, curiosity got the better of me.

And quite honestly, I only set out to read the first few chapters...

And even after several pages in, I still couldn't figure out how Zarr had lured me in: a teen mom story (which is not exactly my idea of a 'fun' read) involving a small town gal and another who has an "I-hate-the-world" attitude stamped on her forehead with a boyfriend exhibiting a lip ring and eyeliner? Definitely NOT your cast of typical characters.

But Zarr has this amazing ability to pull you into their stories. You're no longer reading it, you're actually hearing their voices. It's as if you're sitting across the table listening to Jill and Mandy's side of the story. All the stereotypes and all the things you thought you knew about the characters begin to crumble as you really look at them for who they are.

Even though it's a story about teen pregnancy, it's a message for all of us, because in life, aren't there times we each wish for a "do-over?"

I highly recommend this gem! While it's a bit predictable (which I guess isn't really a bad thing when what you hope for actually happens--right?), it will carry you through a journey of hope and inspiration that will leave you feeling that you too, are worth it.

How to Save a Life is available at and other booksellers.

****Updated 7/22/2012. The content of the book contains some mature themes (sex, teen pregnancy, adoption, death) along with challenging relationship dynamics. There are several instances of swearing.******

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