How to Save a Life: Book summary and reviews of How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

How to Save a Life

By Sara Zarr

How to Save a Life
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2011,
    352 pages.
    Age range: Young Adult


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Book Summary

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.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Woven together from two simple threads, the resulting tapestry is as beautiful as it is real. A story that will resonate beyond its final page." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Filled with so many frustrations, so many dilemmas needing reasonable solutions, and so much hope and faith in the midst of sadness, Zarr's novel is a rich tapestry of love and survival that will resonate with even the most cynical readers." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Zarr crafts intimate and authentic portraits of two vulnerable teens struggling to cope with uncertain futures...their slow, cautious efforts to build trust and better understand the meaning of family are expressed with the deepest compassion and kindness." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The imperfection of the characters and the uniqueness of their situations come together in a compulsively readable novel. Zarr has established herself as an author who must not be missed." - VOYA

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Lauren M,
Wonderful Read
I loved this book....Wonderfully written. Great story line that keeps you wanting for more! I didn't want it to end. I cried and laughed and fell in love with the characters! Highly recommend this book!

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Author Information

Sara Zarr Author Biography

Photo: Jeffrey Overstreet

Sara Zarr was raised in San Francisco, and went to high school in Pacifica, California. When she was 25 she met up with authors and agents in an IRC chatroom, who inspired her to attempt her first YA novel ("I don’t feel like I ever chose YA. It chose me", Sara says). Her goal was to have her first novel published before she was thirty; and three novels, two agents, and ten years later - six years late - Story of a Girl (2007) was published and was a National Book Award finalist. Six months later, she gave up her day job to become a full-time writer.

Today, she is the acclaimed author of three novels for young adults: Story of a Girl,  Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), and Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009, Utah Book Award winner, INSPY winner). Her short ...

... Full Biography
Author Interview
Link to Sara Zarr's Website

Name Pronunciation
Sara Zarr: Sarah Zarr (rhymes with car)

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  • The Lucy Variations jacket
  • Once Was Lost jacket
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