Melanie's Reviews > How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
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Oct 20, 11

bookshelves: review-copy, young-adult
Read in October, 2011

Sara Zarr’s “How to Save a Life” is humanly heartfelt and quite poetic. The story unfolds switching between two perspectives: that of Mandy, the desperate pregnant young girl who is both tough yet ignorant about what “normal” actually is, and Jill- also a young teen who appears rough but is actually hurt and more scared than anyone. The book is filled with beautifully written, yet incorrect/damaging thoughts from the two girls. The flawed, yet understandable thought process each of the girls go through makes your heart break for them; makes you want to reach into the story and help them help themselves. One of the main thoughts that has stayed with me after I finished this story was just how self-defeating and hurtful our own thought processes and natural personalities can be. No matter how rational we feel, no matter how justified, we cannot always trust solely our solitary judgment. This makes friends and family all the more important- all the more potent.

It matters who you have helping you work through life. The people around us help influence the people we are- who we will become. For better or worse. My favorite quote from this book comes from Mandy. She is reflecting over the ad she saw Jill’s mom place on an adoption website. Jill’s mom posts: “Love is something you do, and if no one is there to receive it, it’s incomplete… it’s like an electric current with nowhere to plug in. NO one soaks up love like a child.” (P. 244) Mandy thinks to herself that this is true, but also knows first-hand what most don’t, and that is that “Children aren’t sponges only for love. They soak up whatever they’ve been given.” (p. 245) Oh. I’ve never thought about parenthood that way before. Don’t worry, this book isn’t overly sad. It definitely is NOT a book written to tug at your heart simply for sadness’ sake. In fact, some readers might criticize this for being a little too “neat” I however, still enjoy the happily ever afters and really liked this book.
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