How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Posted October 16, 2011 by Kara in Uncategorized / 2 Comments

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Pages: 341
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

How to Save a LifeHow to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to 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. You can’t lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that’s exactly what it feels like she’s trying to do. And that’s decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows 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, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about what it means to be a family and the many roads we can take to become one.


Wow. Why don’t I read more young adult contemporaries? I don’t really know the answer to that question at the moment, except that I’m never really in the mood to read books that are going to be depressing as sh*t. Sometimes though, you just have to. I am so, so glad I read this book. And it’s totally not a book that was written for me. I hate kids. Maybe hate is a really strong word, but let’s put it this way: I never EVER want to be a parent. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book. This is one of those books that makes you stop and think about life. Really stop and think. About your values, your relatives and relationships, what is important, your dreams and goals, and sometimes when we think things are really sh*tty, we don’t realize how lucky we are. And that’s just the beginning.

Besides the way the book made me feel, there is Sara Zarr’s writer’s voice. And wow. It blew me away in Sweethearts and it blew me away here. If I were ever to be a writer and get my inspiration and techniques from another writer, it would be Sara Zarr. She really knows how to capture the spirit of her characters. This book is written from two different girl’s perspectives, and they were both very different people. It was a beautiful thing as an editor to watch unfold. They were completely two different characters written by the same hand. And they really sounded different too!  It’s ridiculously hard to do, and I don’t think it could have been executed any better.

This is one of those books where I could sit here in front of my computer and write and write and probably never run out of things to stay. The story was beautiful, the characters were unique and completely strange, and sometimes I really liked them, and sometimes I wanted to slug them, but that’s exactly what a great book does. It makes you feel. Emote. For the characters, for yourself, and for whatever else you may be feeling at the time. And there are rare books that make a reader feel this way. For me, How to Save a Life was one of them. And no one is more surprised than me.

To order a copy of How to Save a Life from, click here: How to Save a Life

2 responses to “How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

  1. I’ve seen this around (actually saw it at B&N yesterday (Monday)), & have wanted to get a good review on it before making that final decision. Thank you for this review, my mind has been made, it will be purchased sometime lol. I am a new follower, also new to the book blogging world. I plan to check back often to see what wonderful reviews/post you have!
    @deviantzangel on twitter – blog

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