Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Title: How to Save a Life
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown books for Young Readers
Publication date: October 18th, 2011
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Realistic Fiction)
Source: Library
Format: Hardback
Pages: 341
Jill MacSweeney 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.
How To Save a Life is a book that shocked me. When I started, I wasn't expecting anything. It was just a book I picked up from the library for no reason. Just because the synopsis sounded good, and I have always wanted to read a book by Sara Zarr. How To Save a Life is told from two point of views. From Jill's POV, and from Mandy's POV. Im actually a fan of multiple POV's, because that way, you get to connect with the characters more, and you get to understand what's going on inside their heads. The book starts off with Jill wanting her life to go back to normal. With her dad's death a couple of months ago, she started isolating herself from her boyfriend and her friends. I kind of felt sorry for Jill to be going through that all. Jill feels like no one can understand her. To make things worse, her mother decides to adopt a baby! I really understood why Jill would get devastated from her mom, because it does look like her mom is trying to replace a family member with another. That's when we meet Mandy.
Mandy is a very confused character. Through all her life, she felt like she was unwanted. Her dad left her mother, and never wanted to see them again. Her mother treats her like trash, and acts like taking care of Mandy is a burden. When Mandy gets pregnant, she decides that she wants her baby to have a life thats better than hers. Convinced that the baby will never have that life here, she decides to have the baby up for adoption. That's how Mandy and Jill's mother meet. When Mandy starts living with Jill, Jill pissed me off. Mandy was just staying with them until the baby was due, which was in about 3 weeks, then she was off. Jill was acting like a spoiled brat, treating Mandy like crap. I get that Jill was pissed at her mother, but why does Mandy have to suffer right? I loved how Jill's mom was sweet to Mandy. She really cared for her like her own daughter. I honestly thought that the mother would play the "bad" act and not be as kind as she was to Mandy. 
Getting into the story, it got more and more interesting. It was interesting to read about how the characters slowly got to better terms with each other. We also got to know a lot more about Mandy. What I really enjoyed is that the whole book didn't just revolve about two characters, but there were so many! We got to meet the characters from Jill's job, her friends from school, and even her boyfriend. We got to know about Mandy's mom, and all of her mom's past boyfriends. I liked that Sara Zarr went deep into the story, and that's what made it really realistic for me. The ending was beautiful. It was very unexpected, and it really did touch my heart. It literally does talk about saving a life. Maybe not physically, but surely mentally. 

23 comments:

  1. Oh, I love the cover of that book! The story seems so interesting and I loved your review, Farah! : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great review Farah. This sounds like quite an emotional book. It must be awful to feel you need to give your baby away to a stranger for it to have a decent life. I just can't imagine it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great review Farah. I have to say, it's not a book I think I'd pick up, but so glad you enjoyed it. Donna xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  4. This certainly sounds like an emotional read, but something I would read in a heartbeat. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    ReplyDelete
  5. I felt the same way as you - I loved the mother but I wasn't really keen on either Jill or Mandy. Jill pissed me off for behaving like that and Mandy was just.. odd. But all in all I enjoyed the book too :) I'm glad you did too! x

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have been wanting to read this one for a while!! It sounds like the type of book I would really love. Thanks so much for the awesome review!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oooo I love when this happens Farah! It's so much fun going into a book with either no or very low expectations and then being blown away by how amazing it is. I've never read anything by Sarah Zarr, so I'll have to give this one a try! Lovely review!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Farah! This seems to be a beautiful story about mother-daughter relationships and so much more. Glad to learn that the ending sort of surprised you in a good way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That sounds interesting. I wouldn't pick this one up, because it doesn't sound like a book I normally read. But I always like multiple POV's and it does sound like touching story.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have been wanting to read this for so long and I finally have it! I can't wait for the chance to read it :) Awesome review!

    Janina @ Synchronizd Reading

    ReplyDelete
  11. I totally agree with your review Farah, this book took my by surprise too, it was such a bittersweet and a achy read. Zarr's writing was absolutely stunning! It's definitely encouraged me to pick up more of her books asap! Another brilliant review Farah! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. So I was just like you, Farah, I saw this one at the library and for no reason really, I grabbed it. I surprised myself when I enjoyed this one so thoroughly. I started off really disliking both MCs, but as the book progressed, Sara Zarr managed to weave a wonderful and emotional story that I couldn't help but falling in love with. The huge cast of characters definitely added a lot to the story as well.

    Fantastic review Farah! I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did. <3

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ooh, I need a book that shocks me! I love a good plot twist. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh you totally convinced me! I love when the side characters are actually really important and well fleshed out. It sounds like a lovely book!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yay, I'm so thrilled that you liked this, Farah! How to Save a Life was easily one of my favourite 2011 reads, and Sara Zarr is one of my fave authors as well. Her other contemporary novels are as equally beautiful and well-crafted as this one! Nicely reviewed, dear. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. its really amazing when a book surprises you. I love it! I am going to add this on my list. glad you enjoyed this one. Great review Farah. x

    FICBOOKREVIEWS

    ReplyDelete
  17. I started reading your review, but then I decided that I'll just pick this book without reading anything so I'll expect nothing :) Two of my book friends already said this was great and I trust you :) Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've never really thought about picking this book up. But after reading your review, I'm convinced I should! HOW TO SAVE A LIFE sounds like a really touching story that involves a lot of character interaction and growth. I'm interested to see how I'll like reading about many characters, along with the POVs. This is a lovely review, Farah, I'm so glad you loved this book!

    ReplyDelete
  19. It sounds like a roller coaster of emotions in this book- one that I'd want to read, I think!

    Great review Farah!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I don't know if my other comment went through- but this sounds like a great book! I hadn't heard of it before reading this post. I love the cover and can't wait to read it!
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've also always wanted to read something by Sara Zarr but her books sound very emotional and I read those very rarely. I do love multiple POVs and this especially sounds important to understand what both Jill and Mandy are going through. I am curious as to how it will all work out.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I can't wait to finally read this as soon as it's delivered to my house!! It sounds soo good and your review only made me want it all the much more! I can't wait to see how the lives of all the characters turn out. Glad you enjoyed this, Farah! :) Fabulous review!

    ~ Maida @ Literary Love Affair

    ReplyDelete
  23. superb post, thanks for sharing this lovely post.....
    life cover

    ReplyDelete