Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

So, it seems like the Amazon/CA tax spat is, perhaps, the reason why the Amazon Associates Blogger widgety thinger isn't loading. I don't use it for kickbacks, just for adding book covers to my posts, but I really wish it would be available again.

Without it, I can still tell you about a book I finished a few days ago. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) is the first book I've read from the author; I often get her mixed up with someone else whose books aren't quite to my taste, and I keep accidentally avoiding Zarr. Oops, because this was really good.

Jill is a senior in high school who's coping with her dad's death and her mother's desire to adopt a baby. When soon-to-be mom Mandy, hardly more than a child herself, arrives in Denver to stay with Jill's mom ahead of childbirth and her open adoption, Jill can't believe what's happening to her family. Mandy can't, either; she's never been loved, but she knows what it feels like to be without love, and she wants her child to have a good home. Jill hates Mandy instantly, and suspects her story and motives. Mandy is suddenly unsure about everything besides her desire to get away from her mother and her mother's abusive boyfriend. But, maybe, Jill and Mandy have something to learn about the meaning of the word family.

What I loved: I was totally sucked in by How to Save a Life, even though it sounds like an "issues" book that I wouldn't be so interested in. This is a story where the issues are part of the story, as opposed to a story where the issue is the story. The latter tend to not work so well. Also, Bechdel test. Also, in alternating chapters, Jill and Mandy narrate the story and have distinct voices--something I'm finding to be rare of late. Jill is cynical, bold, suspicious; Mandy is straightforward but secretive, childlike, needy. Fantastic work.

I received this book in advance copy from the publisher.

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