How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

HowtoSaveaLifeTitle: How to Save a Life

Author: Sara Zarr

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 341

Rating: 4.5/5

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.

(note: this was originally a mini-review, thus its shortness)

This is my fourth Sara Zarr book, and she continues to impress me. Three out of the four books I’ve read have been at least 4.5 stars, I believe, and this is one of them. For such a small book, it seemed to start out fairly slow, and the characters weren’t always that likeable, yet by the end I loved it. I can’t really explain why, especially since it’s been a few months since I read it, but something about it just made me happy and sad and moved and other adjectives that make this sentence much longer than it needs to be. Maybe it was the story that I loved, or maybe it was something else. The ending seemed like it wrapped things up a little too nicely to be realistic, but in my opinion it worked, plus it ended on a fairly ambiguous ending, which is decidedly more realistic. Even though I desperately wanted to know what happened after the book ended, I’m kind of happy that I don’t, because I can make up my own ending, which is purely happy and not too realistic, which seems nice to the characters who go through so much in such a short book. Oh, and the main character works at a bookstore – I have to love it at least a little based purely on that.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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