Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: How to Save a Life - Sara Zarr

Where I got it: ARC from publisher for review
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (I like the layout and the footprints in the snow, but that title gets the damn song stuck in my head every time I read it XD)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 341 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

Mandy wants a better life for her baby.  Mandy doesn't want her baby to be hurt or unwanted or have to want for anything. Robin seems like the perfect choice. Robin has a daughter already, just about Mandy's age. They are both grieving the sudden death of Robin's husband. Jill thinks her mom is crazy for wanting to adopt a baby. Jill doesn't even know how to convince her mother it's a bad idea without her father's helping words. Mandy wants a better life for her daughter and Jill doesn't want anything to do with Mandy. Mandy is also having doubts about what the right thing to do is. Maybe she shouldn't give the baby up...maybe the father... Mandy and Robin and Jill all have some learning to do in order to make the next step forward and together, they might just get through it.

Definitely reminded me of a well-written Hallmark movie. It was touching, sad and hopeful all  in one drama-filled package. Mandy was a very odd character. She very much lived in her own little world. I don't think she was stupid, I just think she was left to her own devices most of the time. It didn't seem like Mandy ever got any positive interaction with anyone, especially peers. Jill was a bit more of a relateable character, except that the death of her father filled her with a rage that lashed out at everything and everyone. Jill was hurting and it seemed like she felt there was no place to put that pain. Her dad was her best friend, and so without him she pushed all her other friends away. Jill sometimes acted like she was the only one who missed her father, which I imagine happens when you grief. Everyone hides their pain. Robin hid her pain from Jill, so Jill felt like she was the only one still hurting, still not over his death. Ravi was an interesting character, but it was sort of predictable what his role was in this story. I'm not sure how it could be unpredictable though, because the story needed a character like him. I like how his relationship with Jill started and developed, it was humorous and a little bit sad.

It was a great move telling this story in alternating viewpoints between Jill and Mandy. This story would not have worked if it was told by only one or the other. Both characters when through tremendous changes and had completely different insights into what was happening. Seeing the story from only one side, would make either Mandy or Jill seem like terrible people. Without knowing what they are thinking behind their action, they seem shallow. I really enjoyed watching all the characters grow together and loved how everyone was touched by the death of Jill's dad. Even as a reader, you feel yourself a bit drawn to his character, just from the little bits that Jill shares. This was my first Sara Zarr novel, but I doubt it will be my last. Her novels deal with tough issues, without being tough reads. They won't make readers turn away for being too intense like some realistic contemporary fiction can tend to be.

First Line:
"I am writing in response to your Love Grows post from Christmas Day."

Favorite Lines:
" He takes the pen, writes, and slides it over. You'd think it's something epic from the way it levels my heart. It isn't."

1 comment:

  1. A friend sent me this for Christmas.
    I enjoy multiple point of view so I'm looking forward to reading it.


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