Release Date: October 18, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Gift
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.
How to Save a Life is the first book I have ever read my Sara Zarr.I definitely see the error of my ways now, because this book was incredible. I didn’t really know what to expect at first, but I fell in love with it quickly. The premise was something extraordinarily original. The book also revolves mostly around family dynamics, which is almost unheard of in YA.
I loved Mandy and Jill, although it took me a little while to get used to Mandy. At first she seemed a little…strange and her actions even made me cringe a few times. As the story progresses Mandy really developed. She was very easy to relate to even though I’ve never been in any kind of similar situation. Her feelings of confusion and her fear were totally understandable. Her innocence and almost naive voice was haunting. I really felt a lot of affection for her by the end of the book. I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay.
Jill was very rough around the edges. She was still grieving heavily for her father and she took it out on loved ones. As a reader you couldn’t hold that tough exterior against her, because you know what’s going on in her head. She’s very lost without her father and a little self destructive. All of this sounds like it would make her unlikable, but she isn’t. Not at all.
The characters are what made the book for me. It’s been awhile since I read something that had me so invested in the outcome. I cared about it so much that I think I gave myself a tension headache during the last 100 pages or so, because I was so worried something bad was going to happen to them.
This book was sad, but not heartbreaking. It was much more heartwarming for me. How to Save a Life is about healing and finding happiness in unsuspecting places. I loved it.