Excerpt from Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Once Was Lost

by Sara Zarr

Once Was Lost
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Pam Watts

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“We don’t really need to go into this right now, do we, Nance?” Mr. Hathaway looks at Robby. “Sam’s mom doesn’t have cancer, bud. She’s going to be fine.”

“Yeah,” I say to Robby, who’s staring at me with eyes that are the same blue as Vanessa’s. “She’s going to be fine.” Out in the yard the ripe tomatoes are almost jumping into our hands. It’s dusk, and the hummingbird moths hover and swoop around the lavender bushes while Daisy, Vanessa’s golden retriever, walks the perimeter of the yard over and over. The Hathaways’ yard is smaller than ours — they live a little closer to the main part of town where the houses are packed in a little more tightly. But it’s definitely a better yard. They have a drip irrigation system, with a trickle of water constantly seeping out, just under the soil, and neat rows of summer produce. I wonder if I could do that without any help.

“My mom is so dumb sometimes,” Vanessa says, straightening up among the tomato plants.

“It’s okay. It’s just . . . I didn’t know she knew. And that you know.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

I move to another plant, but most of the tomatoes on this one are still a little green. “I was going to. You haven’t been back that long.”

Vanessa, along with almost the entire youth group except for me, went on a mission trip to Mexico. A lot of kids had to raise the money, but Mom didn’t want me to because of how my dad’s job already involves asking for money. When you stand there every week and pray before the offering plate is passed, people get funny about it.

I change the subject. “I love your haircut. It makes you look older.”

She reaches a hand to her neck. “Really? It feels so short. This one old lady in Mexico thought I was a boy. Ugh.” “No, it’s cute. And with the highlights cut off it looks more cocoa-y.” I find a dark red tomato and pluck it from the vine. “Maybe I should chop my hair off, too.” Even though I’ve always had long hair, the same ashy blond as my mom’s, maybe short hair like Vanessa’s could help me feel less weighed down by . . . every thing.

“I like your hair the way it is.”

We pick for a while, just listening to the crickets, before she says, “I wish you could have been there, in Mexico. It wasn’t the same without you.”

“Thanks. I wish, too.”

“Sam? Is your mom really going to be okay?”

I blink several times and bend low, pretending to be interested in the plants. “Yeah. It takes time.” That’s what they said in the family orientation. It takes time, and patience, and perseverance. “Are you okay?”

She wants me to talk, as in really talk, about my feelings. And I know she’ll try again when we’re in our sleeping bags tonight, and in the morning when we’re getting ready for church. And every time, I know I won’t be able to.

“Mm-hmm.” I hold up my bowl of tomatoes. “Do you think this is enough?”

The outline of her head in the dimming yard nods.

Excerpted from Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr. Copyright © 2009 by Sara Zarr. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.