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Review: How to save a life by Sara Zarr

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.


I absolutely adored this book and don't think there are the words available to quite do it justice so you are going to have to rust me on this one even if my review isn't brilliant.

The things for me that made this book just that little bit special was the way I was left with all the warm and fuzzy feelings by the end. Quite honestly everything about this book is beautiful and I loved the story and the characters and the way it turned out. I don't want o spoil the end but I can safely say the ending was absolutely perfect and even though I never saw it coming I quite honestly don't think it could have ended any other way.

I loved the way this book explored grieve and the varying different ways in which people deal with it. When you meet Jill and her mother they are in quite a mess after Jill's father's recent death. Jill deals by being angry at the world living up to her tough girl image while her mother announces she is adopting a baby from Mandy a teenager she found on the Internet. The two of them can't quite seem to meet eye to eye or agree at all about the way in which they should move forward as a family after the loss of Jill's father and it leads to them regularly getting hurt simply because they don't communicate properly.

I loved Mandy as a character. She finds herself pregnant and wants to give her child away and go on living her life as before. It isn't until she moves in with Jill and her mother that she starts to see how hard her life has been and starts to see how much difference living in a family with loving parents makes which makes her question everything she has ever known about the importance of family. Following her story was really interesting and actually a bit heart breaking at times because Mandy is barely more than a child herself and you feel for her especially when you learn about the way her mother has treated her in the past

Another things I liked about this book was how the characters grow as the story progresses. Jill becomes a little softer as you get to know her and Mandy's world view shifts entirely once she experiences living with the family that is going to adopt her child.

A brilliant and heartfelt read which I devoured. Can I have more Sara Zarr please?


I really love this book and Sara Zarr! I'd love to see her other books published here (I've read and loved them all!)
Now you've mentioned the warm and fuzzy feelings I'm really excited to read this!
I really want to read this, and your review has made me want to even more. Thanks! (I've only read one book by Sara Zarr so far, and I loved it.)
Deborah Julene said…
Guess what just showed up in my mailbox today? I guess I'll have to get reading! I love warm fuzzy feelings. Wonderful review!

Debz @ Debz Bookshelf
Unknown said…
I feel like I am the only person who didn't like this book.