How To Save A Life Hardcover – 1 Jan 1960
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* "Zarr crafts intimate and authentic portraits oftwo vulnerable teens struggling to cope with uncertain futures...their slow, cautious efforts to build trust and better understand the meaning of family areexpressed with the deepest compassion and kindness."-- "Publishers Weekly", starred review
* "Filled with so many frustrations, so many dilemmas needing reasonable solutions, and so much hope and faith in the midst of sadness, Zarr's novel is a rich tapestry of love and survival that will resonate with even the most cynical readers." Booklist, starred review"
* "Woven together from two simple threads, the resulting tapestry is as beautiful as it is real. A story that will resonate beyond its final page." Kirkus Reviews, starred review"
* " Zarr crafts intimate and authentic portraits of two vulnerable teens struggling to cope with uncertain futures...their slow, cautious efforts to build trust and better understand the meaning of family are expressed with the deepest compassion and kindness." Publishers Weekly, starred review"
* "The imperfection of the characters and the uniqueness of their situations come together in a compulsively readable novel. Zarr has established herself as an author who must not be missed." VOYA, starred review"
* "Another heavy-hitting page-turner from Zarr....A must read." School Library Journal, starred review"
A new novel from National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The book tells the story of two seventeen year-old girls with two completely different backgrounds. Mandy grew up in a single-parent family by her alcoholic mother - she dropped out of high school, never really had friends or a loving family. She's desperately trying to get away from her old life and start it all over again, to build a better future for herself and the baby but doesn't know how. And we have Jill, only child to a well-to-do mother, who has just lost her father in an accident and who's been trying to go back to her old self ever since, without success. I didn't really manage to connect to either of them at first: I found Mandy quite naive and `away with the fairies', and Jill very rude and full of herself, but they both grew on me soon enough. And I loved the contrast between the two of them: the fact that apart from the baby, Mandy has nothing or no one else - not even a proper, loving family or a better future to look forward to, while Jill has a loving mum and friends she could count on and all she does is drive them away and completely alienate herself.
Going back to my original remark about contemporary fiction, where most of these books go wrong, if you ask me, is romance. Love triangles in young adult fiction seem to be the newest trend and for me, seven out of ten times they just don't work. I get irritated by the fact that it's all so predictable and terribly unrealistic. The thought that real life is nothing like that is constantly at the back of my mind and it keeps me from enjoying the book in question. But reading How to Save a Life was very different. It was realistic, not at all over-the-top, cheesy or even predictable, and I loved the two male characters (especially Dylan).
Whether you prefer young adult or adult fiction, I would definitely recommend that you read How to Save a Life. It's a touching, yet optimistic and a very much realistic story about two girls with completely different backgrounds but a common aim: wanting to start over. It's a unique novel with a beautiful message that will definitely make you think - I really enjoyed it.
Lovely characters to care about and an involving plot that grips.
A good companion piece to the film Juno (without the laughs).
What can I say that other reviewers haven't already?
I take everything I said about Sara Zarr back. I still stand by what I said about "Once Was Lost", but Zarr, as a writer, is incredible.
She knows how to make you relate with every single character: from rebellious and hurt Jill, to creepily hollow Mandy, to grieving Robin, to confused Dylan and to understanding Ravi. Every single character in this book had an important part to play in those girls' lives.
Mandy is such a difficult girl to like, and yet Zarr makes sure that you do end up liking her and even rooting for her. Your emotions towards her transform as the book progresses right along with Jill's emotions towards her. Mandy can come off as creepy, and strange. Her dialogue is a little scary at times, almost stalker-like, obsessive and very manipulative. But then...there are certain moments, certain things she says in her narrative that make you stop and think - wow, that was deep. And as Mandy's past is revealed, and as her story unfolds, you start feeling protective over her. You want to save her.
Jill, on the other hand, comes off as the typical rebellious teenage daughter. But there's a catch - her father had just recently passed away in a car crash. Her father, who was her best friend, role model, and "mirror". Her father, who was the only person who really understood her and could make her a better person. Her anchor was gone, and she felt lost and hurt and confused. Naturally, it caused her to lash out. Because she was hurting, she needed to hurt those around her as well. She didn't know how to express her emotions or how to make people understand what she was going through. She always felt and thought one thing, but expressed and said another thing - and that, I could totally relate to. So many times I feel exactly the same way and wish I could actually say what I feel. Jill was on this quest to try and remember her old self, but try and find her future self at the same time. She needed to get out of this downwards spiral before it was too late and she had no one left. She needed to be saved.
This is such a great story, with such great characters, and even greater twists and turns. This is what I would call a complete novel.
(On a separate note, I think this book would make such a great young adult film. The entire time I could clearly visualize Ellen Page playing Jill's part.)
Sara Zarr, I am glad I gave you another shot and started reading this book right after reading "Once Was Lost".
You have truly redeemed yourself.
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I've read the book myself and it's pretty good.Read more