Sarah Rosenberger's Reviews > How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
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Jun 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: teen-fiction
Read from September 09, 2011 to February 20, 2013

In Sara Zarr's capable hands, what could be a cliched story of teen pregnancy becomes much more.

When Jill MacSweeney learns that her middle-aged mother plans to adopt a baby from an unwed, pregnant teenager, she thinks the whole idea is ridiculous. Jill knows enough about psychology to understand that her mom wants to fill the void in her life left by Jill's father's unexpected death, but she still thinks it's a terrible idea. Especially since the mother of the baby, Mandy, is coming all the way from Iowa to live with them for the month before the birth, and refuses to sign any contracts.

Mandy, the mother-to-be, wants to give her unborn child the life she never had. Raised by a resentful mother and an endless string of her mother's boyfriends, she knows that leaving her baby with the MacSweeneys is the right decision. Of course, she hasn't been entirely honest with them about everything...

The story alternates between the viewpoints of the tough-talking but inwardly grieving Jill and the needy but determined Mandy. Although neither is completely likeable, Zarr still manages to make the reader care about and empathize with them. Talented writing, interesting secondary characters, and a solid, if unrealistic, plot combine to result in a tender story about opening your heart.

A great book for girls who want to read about grief or teen pregnancy, or those who want well-done, female-oriented realistic fiction.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by A. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A. Rolland Just read this one - you hit the nail on the head: "Although neither (Jill or Mandy) is completely likeable, Zarr still manages to make the reader care about and empathize with them."


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