How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown
Released on October 18, 2011
Amazon | Indiebound | B&N
Jill MacSweeny 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.(from Little, Brown)
This book was pretty incredible. I don’t have the right words to describe its amazingness, the beauty and soul that is this book. I had this one on my pile for over a year and if it wouldn’t have been for Magan from Rather Be Reading it would probably still be sitting there collecting dust, the poor thing. I’m grateful I read her end of the year survey where she gushed about this one constantly because it made me pick it up right away.
I loved how Sara Zarr didn’t take the subject of teen pregnancy lightly, she didn’t make it seem like a fairy tale or something that one can easily overcome but she made it painfully realistic.
How to Save a Life is told from two point of views, Mandy’s and Jill’s. Both very different girls that come from totally different type of homes and family but both equally unforgettable. Mandy, even though she seems a bit clueless at first, she shows throughout the novel that she’s actually pretty smart but she just thinks about things a bit differently than other people do, but not in a bad way, more in an innocent way, which took me a while to understand but I ended up loving that about her towards the end. After everything that Mandy has gone through and how her horrible mom treated her and made her feel, she still wanted a better future and a better life for her baby and I really wanted to see her get that happy ending.
Now Jill was a totally different story, a complete opposite of Mandy, she’s quick to judge and quick to act. She was still a very relatable character but she puts up a front of a tough girl that won’t let anybody in, but underneath it all she’s suffering because of the death of her father and she’s just not able to open up and grieve in any other way. Her sadness and loss is so palpable, I found myself crying for her especially during the times when she remembered those little things about her dad, those things that made him so different that she loved about him, it was heartbreaking.
Every single character in this novel is essential, they make this story what it is and I loved that they are not left untouched. Sara Zarr wrote well rounded characters that made it easy for the reader to develop feelings for them, either love or hate. I loved that we see Jill and Mandy grow throughout this novel, they learn to trust and love and change so much by the end which made it such a perfect ending and I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. I was sobbing by the end. This was a beautifully written story that will touch anyone’s heart. A story about what love, home and family really means and learning not to judge someone so quickly. A story about grief and loss but also about newfound love and hope, one that left me smiling and thinking about it long after it was done. I highly recommend it, please do not overlook it like I did for almost a year, it’s not one to be missed.Pin It