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How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
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How to Save a Life

by Sara Zarr

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6826223,048 (4.02)21
Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill's mother agrees to adopt Mandy's unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.
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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
This was my first experience with Sara Zarr and I really liked her writing style. This book was full of emotions and feelings and I loved that. I also loved that this book wasn't all about the romance between a boy and girl but instead about what makes a family. I found both Mandy and Jill to be intriguing characters and I wanted to know all there was to know about them. I wanted to unravel their mysteries and see who they were underneath all their insecurities and fears. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |
(This review can also be found on my blog The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl).

I won this book off of Facebook or Twitter; I forget which. I had totally forgot about this book, I'm ashamed to admit, until I was tidying up my bookshelf and came across it again. I'm glad I came across it again as it's definitely become one of my favourite reads of 2012.

Jill's dad has only recently died, and already it seems like her mother wants to replace him with a new baby. Enter Mandy. Mandy is a pregnant teen. She wants to give her baby up for adoption, and Robin, Jill's mother, seems like the perfect person to adopt her baby. Will Mandy and her baby help fill the whole in Robin and Jill's heart? Will Mandy feel loved? What if Mandy decides to keep her baby? Told from both Jill's and Mandy's point of view, this book will tug at your heart strings.

I don't really get the title to this book. Maybe there's some kind of hidden message behind the title, and I'm missing it, but I really don't understand why this book is called How to Save a Life. Perhaps it's to let the reader know that this book will be very emotional.

The cover suits the book especially when it comes to the character of Mandy. Once you read the book, you'll definitely think this cover suits the book. I won't say too much due to spoilers, but just take my word that it does indeed suit the book.

There's really not much to the setting of the book. It mostly takes place at Jill's house in Denver and a few other little places like Jill's school or restaurants. However, the setting of this book is done rather well, and it sounds like Denver!! I mean, I've never been, but it's what I'd imagine it to be.

The pacing was brilliant! It was so hard to put this book down. I was hooked beyond belief. At no point does the pacing slow down enough to become boring. Each chapter is interesting!!

The dialogue was perfect. The two main characters are teens, and I felt their language was appropriate for teen girls. There were a couple of words I didn't understand, but I think this was just down to me not knowing the what the word meant as others probably know what it means. However, this didn't take away from the story in the slightest. There are a few swear words, but not too many.

I loved the characters in this book!! Mandy was my favourite character. It felt as if Mandy's mother had brainwashed her into thinking all sorts of things, so Mandy comes off as being a bit socially inept. She's definitely a bit weird because of it, but that's what I loved about her. She has this sort of innocence and naivety that is both sweet and charming. I also loved Jill. She starts off with a "screw the world" attitude, but it's obvious she's only acting that way because of what she's been through. Jill is actually quite a sweet girl. As for Dylan and Ravi, I also loved them both. Dylan is very caring and comes across as the type that's nice to everyone no matter what. Ravi came across as the geeky but sexy sweet guy.

This book had me laughing and crying (quite literally). It also had me worried and made me feel secure. It plays up to most of the human emotions. It's just a bit hard to explain unless you read it, which I suggest you do ASAP! This book is an emotional rollercoaster. It's one of those books you just have to read!! It will also have you thinking about it long after you've finished reading it.

I'd recommend this book to everyone aged 16 . It's such an amazing book! I can't sing it's praises loud enough!! Please read it and let me know what you think. You won't regret reading it. ( )
  khal_khaleesi | Nov 16, 2019 |
Jill had a great life complete with friends, a boyfriend, happy home, and a father she adored. It all falls apart when her dad dies in a car crash, and she finds that coping skills are not her strong suit. Enter her mother who throws another wrench into her already deteriorating life. She plans to adopt a baby and allow the pregnant teen to live with them until the baby is born. Jill voices her opinions strongly against the arrangement and when Mandy shows up, Jill lets her know exactly how she feels.

Over the course of the book we learn about Mandy's messed up relationship with a mother who never really wanted her, Jill's on again, off again relationship with Dylan, and her fluctuating attraction to Ravi, an old classmate who works in the corporate security department of the bookstore she works at. Through the alternating voices of Jill and Mandy we learn how both of them are learning to cope with their situations and ultimately get their lives back on track. Mandy wrestles with her decision to give her baby away and Jill struggles to find out what kind of person she wants to be and who she wants to be it with. In the end happiness prevails and everything works out for the best.

All in all not a bad book, but it becomes sluggish in the middle. I kept hearing the lyrics to "Should I stay or should I go?" Mandy goes in circles debating this question and it really slows down the momentum of the story. Jill asks the same question in regards to her relationship with her boyfriend. Should she stay with Dylan or move on to Ravi? Honestly the book is about 75 pages too long. The middle is quite meh with nothing really happening to advance the plot. Although Zarr does bring it all together nicely and quickly at the end. I personally look for more in books, but teens will find the storyline and characters interesting. ( )
  valorrmac | May 15, 2018 |
4.5 stars.

Wow, this one was so exceptionally good. I adored both Jill and Mandy, how real each of them felt, and how different from each other they were. Such a beautiful, touching little story. There's not much I can say about this book that hasn't been said before. Let's face it: The premise is not entirely original. Teen pregnancy, grief over the death of a loved one - both extremely important topics, yet they have both been written about before... And yet, this book managed to be unique in its heartfelt-ness, its hopefulness, its sweetness. It was just what I needed and wanted to read. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
I honestly don't know why but that book didn't realy get to me... I like a lot of books and maybe if mandy wouldn't be so annoying it would be a different thing. maybe I will read it again and give it another shot. we will see ( )
  Sandra_Berglund | Mar 10, 2016 |
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I am writing in response to your Love Grows post from Christmas Day.
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I have no concrete plans for seeing the world and don't know how I'd come up with them without his advice, and when I picture myself moving out, it doesn't feel like a bold adventure. It feels like running away. Because all I can see is the part where I leave, not the part where I arrive.
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Sara Zarr is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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