Monday, January 2, 2012

Review (19): How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr

Series: None
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 341
Source: ARC
Challenge: 2012 OTS
Author Website:

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 pegnant, 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?________________________________________________________________________

Plot: To be honest, I wasn’t really sure about this one. The synopsis felt too 16 & Pregnant to me and I was expecting something along those lines. But that is definitely not what I found. This is a story of two girls, both lost and confused who are searching for something they didn’t even realize they wanted or needed. It was a story about family, how blood relation doesn’t really matter, as long as you are willing to be there for each other. There aren’t any major plot twists, it isn’t action packed and it isn’t even all that unique, but it is still a great book. Only after reading it and sitting down to write this review, did I notice that the ending was totally and completely predictable, but this didn’t take anything away from the novel because it was exactly what I hoped would happen. There was an annoying cliffhanger at the very, very end though, but I say “annoying” only because I really wanted to know what happened next and then, suddenly, the book was over. I just hope this means a sequel might be coming? Who knows...

Characters: This was very strange for me, but I connected with both Jill and Mandy despite how different they were. It was a little odd because I can’t remember the last time I agreed so much with a characters inner thoughts. I even caught myself nodding along as I was reading a few times, thinking: “That is so me. Thank God I’m not the only one”. Jill is moody, angry and bitter which is completely understandable behavior after losing a parent, especially considering the relationship they had. Mandy was a little more difficult to understand. She is very naive, very lost, but very well-intentioned. She is only trying to do what she thinks is best for everyone, even if she has no idea what her future will be once it is all done. The alternating viewpoints offered more of the characters personality through implication rather than outright telling. The fact that the characters were so relatable is probably the main reason why I liked this book so much. 

Cover: I like the cover and it does show how lost Mandy is, which is a key part of the story, but it isn’t the only one and I think they could have designed something that tied in with the book better. It is still really cute though.

Overall Impression: This is the first time I am reading a novel by Sara Zarr, but it will definitely not be the last. I hope a sequel is in the works!

Rating: * * * * 1/2

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