Thursday, November 17, 2011

Read This: How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr

The Short Story
Mandy is young, pregnant, trying to find someone to adopt her baby, and completely on her own. Jill is young, definitely not pregnant, recovering from her dad's recent passing, and wishes everyone would leave her alone. When Jill's mom decides to adopt Mandy's baby, things start to go a little crazy. Told from Mandy and Jill's point of views, it's a good, hard, emotional, but ultimately hopeful read.

Come for the....
emotion. It was hard for me to pin down what exactly I liked about this one (and I did like it). Jill and Mandy aren't particularly loveable as narrators. In fact, I really, really disliked Mandy in the beginning. I knew I should have felt sympathetic toward her, but I just didn't. And Jill makes herself super difficult to like. Ever since her dad died, Jill has tried her hardest to push everyone away. Sometimes it's with good reason (like the person who suggested to get a dog to fill the void), but often it's just the regular people in her life who want to help.

So the book was a little slow in the beginning, as I got used to the characters. But eventually I started to connect with Jill, and by the very end, Mandy. I liked that Sara Zarr has a way of making you see the good and the bad in people, and helping you learn to like all of them. The book actually has a really hopeful tone, although you should keep your tissues handy.

Stay for the
supporting characters, especially Dylan and Ravi, who were both amazingly good at treating people better than they had to; Sara Zarr's way with words. There's a few lines about grief that I thought were the best, most honest description I had ever read.

Don't Think About This Too Hard

  • If you've ever been pregnant, some of Mandy's pregnancy descriptions will probably stick out to you. Did she have gestational diabetes, or was she on bed rest or something? I couldn't figure out why she had to rest so much and wasn't supposed to have sugar. Also, uh... there's no way you can go without wearing a bra while you're pregnant. Just saying.

The Big Three:
Language: some occasional swearing, including a couple f-words
Sex and Stuff: Some implied but not described
Violence: Mentions of abuse, but not described

Just So You Know
I read an ARC of How to Save a Life as part of Around The World ARC Tours.
It's now available.


  1. Great review!

    I have GD and I'm constantly having to check my sugar. It totally bites.

  2. I like Sarah Zarr's stuff so I'll be reading this one. The no bra thing made me giggle. I haven't been pregnant but I can imagine...sort of. ;)

  3. I want to read this one, but at the same time I can never quite get into Sara Zarr's books, so I keep putting off reading it. But Dylan and Ravi sound great :)

  4. I do like the sound of this one :) Your description of this novel made me think about 'Butterflies in May', which I wholeheartedly recommend.

  5. This book looks great. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Great review! Also, I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog. It's a fantastic book (I gave it 5 stars) so come on over and enter to win!
    -Katie @ Magic is in Words