How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

‘No one measures a life in weeks and days. You measure life in years and by the things that happen to you.’

Jill’s father has just died and she feels lost, no longer herself without her best friend; then her mother informs her she’s going to adopt a baby…

Mandy is 17 and pregnant. She’s run away from home, and the only thing she wants is to make sure her baby doesn’t have life like hers.

‘I don’t want this to be a baby from fear and sadness. I want this to be a baby from cornfields and Ferris wheels and stars.’

I was expecting this to be a cheesy predictable ‘family’ story. Well, it’s fairly predictable, but not cheesy, and definitely deeper and more significant than I had imagined. I can see this being a book that ends up on a school reading list. It touches on some key subjects: death, loss, grief, abuse, adoption and teenage pregnancy – all of which are important topics that teenagers should be exposed to in the literary world. The fact that it’s modern and relatable is always a bonus for reluctant readers.

‘Mandy smiles at me and touches her belly. “Thanks”. Her eyes are ice blue, light and clear, the kind of eyes you see on certain sheepdogs. Her smile makes me uncomfortable.’

I had no idea that I would be so unnerved by the character of Mandy, presumably it was Sara Zarr’s intention to give her this psychopathic air about her, and there are significant facts about her past that – without explicitly stating in the novel – perhaps give us an insight as to why she’s become the sort of person she has. The ending is no surprise, but Zarr’s writing is engaging and her characters (perhaps with the occasional exception of Mandy) are relatable. I would definitely recommend it, especially to read during winter given the lovely book cover. 🙂

Suitable for age 14+

Love From,

Original Book Girl


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Filed under Adult Literature, Children's Literature

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