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How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
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How to Save a Life (edition 2012)

by Sara Zarr

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4684922,128 (4.07)19
Member:veg-chick
Title:How to Save a Life
Authors:Sara Zarr
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:families, grief, loss, adoption, teen pregnancy

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How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Interesting book of a teenage girl who's mother decides to take on a girl who is pregnant with an open adoption. Snarkiness abounds as is usual with high school lit but still a different point of view. Buy ( )
  FaithLibrarian | Jun 22, 2014 |
First let me say through out this book I had to wonder if I was reading the same book I read reviews about.

jill is a bitchy teen who lost her father. The closest person to her. trying to get through her last yr of H.S.

Mandy is a troubled girl who got preggo and decided that it would be best if she gave the baby up for adoption.

This book. hmmm. It was VERY boring for me and drawn out. I feel that both characters had potential. but Jill was hard to sympathize with. yes I understand she lost her father. but to treat the world around her like she did pissed me off. She took being a bitchy teen to a whole different level. I understand its hard losing a parent but I dunno she was very hard to like. I made no connection at all.

Mandy. Boy I liked Mandy even less than Jill. Mandy buggged me. she was creepy. she was disturbed. she has issues. I didnt like how she got everything handed to her without having to work for a damn thing. She was whiny. annoying. and very into herself. just not likeable.

Now for the writing. There was no way of telling the characters apart. neither had their own voices. if it wasnt for the different font of each girl I would have NEVER told them apart. Yes the girls had very different personalities but their voices were the same.

I like the story line. I think it had a lot of potential. when I read reviews I thought I was finding a treasure of a book.

I will not give up on Sara Zarr as I have been told to check her out by numerous people, this one book just wasnt my cup of tea. I had no connection to it. ( )
  Courtney_Chance | Jun 19, 2014 |
First let me say through out this book I had to wonder if I was reading the same book I read reviews about.

jill is a bitchy teen who lost her father. The closest person to her. trying to get through her last yr of H.S.

Mandy is a troubled girl who got preggo and decided that it would be best if she gave the baby up for adoption.

This book. hmmm. It was VERY boring for me and drawn out. I feel that both characters had potential. but Jill was hard to sympathize with. yes I understand she lost her father. but to treat the world around her like she did pissed me off. She took being a bitchy teen to a whole different level. I understand its hard losing a parent but I dunno she was very hard to like. I made no connection at all.

Mandy. Boy I liked Mandy even less than Jill. Mandy buggged me. she was creepy. she was disturbed. she has issues. I didnt like how she got everything handed to her without having to work for a damn thing. She was whiny. annoying. and very into herself. just not likeable.

Now for the writing. There was no way of telling the characters apart. neither had their own voices. if it wasnt for the different font of each girl I would have NEVER told them apart. Yes the girls had very different personalities but their voices were the same.

I like the story line. I think it had a lot of potential. when I read reviews I thought I was finding a treasure of a book.

I will not give up on Sara Zarr as I have been told to check her out by numerous people, this one book just wasnt my cup of tea. I had no connection to it. ( )
  Courtney_Chance | Jun 19, 2014 |
3.5/5
I enjoyed this book, but I did find that at times it didn't really hold my interest. I really liked the dual narration though, that was interesting and I'll talk more about why I specifically liked it in this book on my blog.

Overall I liked it and I'm pleased that I read it, but I probably wouldn't read it again. ( )
  bookish92 | Mar 20, 2014 |
Mandy is 18 and pregnant either through a one night stand or through her mother's abusive boyfriend. Jill is 17 and her dad died, Mac, in an auto accident a few months earlier. Her mother Robin and Mac had talked about adopting a child and now that Mac is gone, Robin is following through with an open adoption.

Robin and Mandy meet through a website and agree. With 8 weeks left to term, Mandy travels from Nebraska to Colorado to live with Robin until the baby arrives. She's not sure of her plans afterward.

How to Save a Life is an interesting contrast of characters. Mandy, who comes from a poor and abusive family, isn't the smartest kid in the world, book smart at least, but she has moxie to leave her home unannounced and try to start a new life. Jill, a year younger, is still mourning her father and in her grief has alienated her friends, her mother to some extent and her boyfriend. Robin and Jill come from a middle class, urban background and Robin is a successful business woman.

The strength of this book is in the contrast of the three women. It got off to a slow start but ended up an interested read. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Nov 7, 2013 |
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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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316036064, Hardcover)


Author One-on-One: Jenny Han Interviews Sara Zarr
Jenny Han

Author Jenny Han recently sat down with Sara Zarr to discuss her latest novel, How to Save a Life.

Jenny Han: In my humble opinion, this is the best book you’ve written thus far. I loved it. I know we authors don’t like to play favorites with our book babies, but do you feel that way, too?

Sara Zarr: Thanks, Jenny! I have to admit‚ I do have extra-warm feelings for this book. Some of that is because the writing of it felt so good, relative to the experience of writing my other books. Still hard work, certainly, but enjoyable hard work. I don’t have to tell you that not every book feels that way. Also, I had a very definite sense while writing it that I was undergoing some kind of change and growth as a writer, and that felt good. I’m proud of it as a work, and it will also always symbolize, to me, that period of exciting change and growth.

Han: Did you do any kind of research on adoption?

Zarr: I did. I poked around adoption websites and message boards, and I had to look up some information on laws in the states where the story takes place. The specific circumstances under which Jill’s mom and Mandy find each other has a whiff of “gray market” about it, which didn’t lend itself to research. So I had to imagine and assume it would be entirely possible, as I know people will go to great lengths and push boundaries in the process of creating a family.

Han: Did you plan all along to tell the story from both Mandy’s and Jill’s perspectives?

Sara Zarr

Zarr: When I first started the book, it was Jill’s story. But as soon as I finished Jill’s first chapter, in which she and her mother are waiting for the train that’s bringing Mandy to them, I knew that I wanted to be on that train, too. I wanted to know what brought Mandy to that moment of leaving home, and what she’d think of her new life in Denver and of Jill.

Han: Mandy moved me very much. There is an innocence to her, but also a sharpness, a manipulativeness. She reminded me of an unwanted puppy that’s thrown into a lake but claws its way back to the surface. Where did you get your inspiration for Mandy?

Zarr: That’s a great description and metaphor for Mandy. She came to me slowly. I know this sounds like one of those weirdo writer things—I just sort of got on the train with her and watched. It took me quite a bit longer to figure her out than it took me to know Jill. At first Mandy was more manipulative, less innocent. I saw her as a type, or as a character. Which, as you know, is not the best way to approach the people we’re creating, but sometimes that’s where you have to start. As her story came to me in pieces, I could see how her experience had made her both strong and vulnerable, and that anything she did that seemed manipulative was simply out of this will to survive that she’d been honing since birth.

Han: Is there one character you related to most deeply?

Zarr: I think anyone who knows me well will recognize where a lot of Jill’s personality comes from. Jill is a lot like me when—well, I hate to say “when I’m at my worst,” because I don’t think that’s fair to Jill. Let’s just say that I understand Jill and why she sometimes treats people who care about her in the shabby way that she does. That said, I also deeply felt Mandy’s longing for safety, for home, for some kind of faith that things are going to be okay. Both Mandy and Jill want those things. Probably everyone does.

Han: What's next for you after this?

Zarr: I’m working on a new novel right now. All I can say is that it’s my usual—contemporary realism—and that the process is challenging me in every possible way. I hope in a year to be able to say that I met those challenges successfully!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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