Posts Tagged ‘Sara Zarr’

YA NovelHow to Save A Life by Sara Zarr is aptly titled, though it’s not quite clear whose life (or lives) will ultimately be saved nor how until the tension starts building well into the book. I really liked this novel. The story is told in first person in alternating chapters by the two main characters, Jill and Mandy. The book designer was insightful enough to use a different font for each chapter and head it with the character’s name, which made it ever so easy to always know who was speaking. (Unlike an adult book which I am reading now with 2 characters alternating, but which does not help the reader with this very simple aid.)

Jill, a senior in high school, is trying to adjust to the sudden death of her father, with whom she was most closely identified. In addition to her future plans being unclear, Jill now has to adjust to her mother, Robin, having decided to adopt a baby. Mandy is a pregnant teenage girl from Omaha, who needs to get away from an abusive home situation and who has connected with Robin online to give her baby away. Additionally, there is a love interest or two for Jill, but plenty of conflicts for all of the characters.

One of the things that is so very impressive in How to Save A Life is the absolute consistency of voice of both Mandy and Jill, and I say kudos to Sara Zarr for pulling this off so amazingly. I found the story to move along at a slow and gentle pace for quite some time, gradually revealing Jill and Mandy’s situations, feelings and conflicts. It builds quite  seamlessly to the point that could change everything, and then the pace picks up rapidly.

Mandy and Jill are as different as day and night, as are their life circumstances, but Zarr never gave me any real reason to change my mind about how I felt about them, no matter how they behaved or what choices they made. Mandy and Jill’s choices were always understandable, always forgivable, no matter how seemingly selfish, unwise or uninformed. This is the mark of a great author, to create characters we genuinely care about and with whom we can identify.

I recommend How to Save A Life to anyone who enjoys a good read and wonderful character development. For those of us who are writing, how Sara Zarr has put it all together is enlightening, as well.

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Surprise! It’s books! Hardcover, too!

With the annual Hunterdon County Library Book Sale just around the corner, (details here, if you want to go – you won’t be sorry), and with a decent size stash still waiting to be read, I almost … that’s almost, but not totally … don’t feel entitled to purchase brand new books. But alas, it is one of two indulgences I’ve allowed myself in this life, (the other being music), and so the books arrived. If you are reading this post currently, you will see them to the right. If you visit this blog regularly, you will note there are always two books there – one a novel, be it adult, YA or MG, and the other a book of an enlightening, metaphysical/spiritual nature. And so goes my reading. Picture books go too fast to even warrant a spot, but I may write about them here.

How to Save A Life kept popping up at me from different places and sounded terrific, so I got it. More on that when I read it. And then, while flipping channels last week, I came to a halt on Wayne Dyer and a PBS special, Wishes Fulfilled, also the title of the book. He is so on the money, and who doesn’t want their highest good manifested? So I’m starting on that, too.

But first, a word on Click. While waiting for said package to arrive, I felt drawn to read this again. It is a continuing story told chapter by chapter by different authors from the USA and the UK, each highly accomplished. It’s a great concept with each new chapter a revelation that could only result in the story being told this way. It starts off with Linda Sue Park, and then continues Chapter 2* with David Almond, one of my favorite authors. His chapter was so amazing and magical, I could have stopped right there. But I’m more than halfway through and want to enjoy the rest before I start my new choice.

In addition to these wonderful authors bringing the tale of Grandpa Gee, photographer and worldwide traveler, his family and those he encounters in his journeys to life, they have also contributed their book sale proceeds from Click to Amnesty International to save a few lives themselves.

*Here is a quote from Chapter 2 of Click by David Almond:

“I’m Annie Lumsden, and I live with my mum in a house above the jetsam line on Stupor Beach. I’m thirteen years old and growing fast. I have hair that drifts like seaweed when I swim. I have eyes that shine like rock pools. My ears are like scallop shells. The ripples on my skin are like the ripples on the sand when the tide has turned back again. At night I gleam and glow like sea beneath the stars and moon. Thoughts dart and dance inside like little minnows in the shallows. They race and flash like mackerel farther out. My wonderings roll in the deep like sails. Dreams dive each night into the dark like dolphins do and break out happy and free into the morning light. These are the things I know about myself and that I see when I look in the rock pools at myself.”    — David Almond

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