Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review of How to Safe A Life by Sara Zarr

Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers
How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr
5 Scribbles
When was the last time you took a risk?
For many of us, some of our most exciting, most cherished moments in life happen when we take risks, when we step out of the accepted mold and just…jump. But Jill doesn’t have to take risks. Her life is perfect; she has the perfect boyfriend, perfect friends, perfect parents, and perfect plan for the future—until Jill’s dad dies. Now Jill’s mom, Robin, wants to adopt a baby, and she brings a pregnant girl to stay with them until the baby is delivered. Jill’s voice begins the novel; her fierce rage over her father’s death and her skepticism about Mandy make her an unlikeable character at times, and yet it is just that authenticity that draws the reader to her. Mandy, the pregnant teenager, speaks in alternating chapters, and it becomes clear that this poor, na├»ve, and disused young woman has an odd sort of wisdom. It is not hard to quickly become invested in the characters, from gentle Robin to the perverse Kent. The reader will want wrongs set right, justice done, and villains punished, but like in life, only moving forward and celebrating what is good can heal old wounds. It is this exploration of possibilities, coupled with a very unique conclusion that makes this novel impossible to put down. In the end, for hurt and anger to subside and open hearts to prevail, it isn’t just Jill who may need to jump.

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