December 03, 2012

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr Review

How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr
Published on October 18th 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 341 pages
Find the title on Goodreads

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.

- description

Oh, wow. This book was as perfect as I imagined it to be. It feels like I've been wanting to read this since forever. It was different from the books I usually read, but nonetheless it left a very big impression on me. And with that powerful title? How to save a life really is a life changing book - or it helps you go trough some big issues in life.

Mandy. I didn't fully understand Mandy. She's kind of one of a kind. She thinks in a very different way that I am used to. She was also so dual sometimes - scared for herself of what may happen and on the other way she was so so strong, and brave. I admired her a lot. She really has balls, because really, I would have chickened out long before. She never did.

Jill. Well, Jill was someone I did understand completely. Maybe because we are kind of alike. Her father died and she pushed everyone away. She was constantly in this state of being angry at the whole world - and I understood. My world would shatter too, if someone I love really much died. Don't really know if I would ever manage to be the same. Jill couldn't either.

The writing was very beautiful. The dual POV was cool because you get to get into the head of Mandy and Jill. And they are so different. I really liked the dynamics, how they changed trough the book. Sara Zarr really did an amazing job with this book. And I cried, at some point. Which doesn't happen much - so believe me when I say that, How to save a life is a powerful book.

So, if you're searching for a Young Adult book filled with grief, death, struggling to go on, new life, new possibilities, and choices to make for a better future, or simply finding yourself again after your world had completely shattered, How to save a life is the perfect book for you!

Isn't that more caring about myself, though, than loving him? Shouldn't love have at least a little to do with the other person, separate from yourself? But how can you see anything or anyone in the world apart from yourself? I mean, everything we experience is subjective, since we have no way of experiencing it other than through our eyes. And I get to thinking that love is just a word we use to describe what boils down to a selfish and temporary state of happiness.
I'm not trying to be a cynic. I seriously wonder about this.

I want to say it. I'd miss you. My vocal cords are paralyzed.  
"You want to shut life out, Jill, that's your choice. Push everyone away. Refuse change." She laughs a little and throws her hands up. "You used to not give a damn about anything, but that was because you were brave, not cynical. You used to have so much courage. Dad and I would lie awake at night worrying about the trouble you'd get into because of your courage."
They did? I had courage?
Mom continues, "I don't know how you got so scared."
She tosses it off, unthinking. We stare at each other. How can she say that? She does know. She does! I swallow, finally finding my voice. "I don't know how you didn't."

Crying. The kind of crying that takes over your whole body and makes your head hurt and your ribs sore. You think you might throw up. You try to bury your face into blankets or pillows to keep from being heard, but when you do that you can't breathe, you start to choke. So you pull away and glup in air, then try to hide your face again, quickly. That's the sound I heard.
It made my own lungs empty out for a second, hearing her. My body remembered what it was to cry like that. I went back to bed and pictured myself in my room in Council Bluffs, six months ago, gluping air and clenching layers of blankets in my fists. No one in the world should have to feel like that. Not even Jill.

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