Laura's Reviews > Once Was Lost

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
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's review
Jun 13, 2011

really liked it

At first, I didn't think I was going to like this book much. I knew it was written from the perspective of a pastor's daughter, and I knew it dealt with themes of faith and spirituality. Because of that, I had some preconceptions that tainted my view of the book before I started reading. I was sure that the book was going to be pushing a religious agenda on readers. However, after I started reading, my preconceptions melted away as I discovered that the book was nothing like I had originally anticipated. In fact, it was a surprisingly wonderful read.

What I loved most about "Once Was Lost" were the dynamic characters. Not a single character in the book was entirely good or entirely bad. We see elements of both in each character. For so much of the book, I wanted to dislike the dad because he was not being a very good parent to Sam. However, throughout the book, we see how he is a great pastor for his church, and he is very human, too, and faces real world temptations. I also like how Sam's mom did not fit the stereotype of the traditional "pastor's wife." She has a drinking problem and severe insecurities and needs to deal with her issues so she can be a more effective mother and wife. Even Sam is not the traditional pastor's kid. She didn't even go on the mission trip with her youth group, and she doesn't participate in the Sunday School discussions or share her heart with her peers. I loved all this because it painted the family in a very real, human light. So many times, it seems that pastors and their families are idealized as perfect models, yet they are humans, too. I like how this book portrayed that.

I also liked the book because there was a plot and a mystery underneath all of it. This book isn't just a character sketch, it has a story, too. A young girl is kidnapped, and the whole town is devastated by her loss. It made me want to continue reading because I wanted to know if Jody was ever going to be found and, if not, how that would affect everyone.

I would not hestitate to recommend this book at all. I think middle school and high school aged readers would gain the most from the book. There is nothing inappropriate in the story that would caution me from recommending it to certain age groups. Since it is told from the point of view of a girl, females may be more interested in reading the book than males.

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