Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: How to Save a Life

Author: Sara Zarr
Publish date: 2011
Source: Won in contest
"Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could 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. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands 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, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems.

I won this book in a contest last month and when it arrived, I stuck it on a bookshelf and decided to wait to read it until I was in the mood. After recently finishing Clockwork Angel and Ashes, I was ready for a contemp, so I gave How to Save a Life a try. I read it over the past 2 nights and really liked it.

One of the things I liked best about this book was the two different narratives. The story is told from both Jill and Mandy's perspectives, in alternating chapters. Even though this is not a new concept, Sara Zarr did SUCH an incredible job with creating two distinct voices. The characters are two completely different people and I am impressed with how their personalities were maintained throughout the narrative. Teacher moment: This book would be a great example to show writing students when explaining the importance of voice.

How to Save a Life was also pretty emotionally hard-hitting. Jill is dealing with the death of her father and continuing life with her mother, and Mandy is pregnant and has moved to Denver to give her baby to Jill's mother Robin. I felt like I could understand with what each girl was going through, but the book wasn't TOO emotional. I didn't feel like I had to wade through any of the writing, which sometimes happens with me when reading contemporary novels that deal with heavier stuff like death.

All in all a great contemp that fans of Sarah Dessen (like me!) would definitely enjoy!

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