You know how it seems like everyone is in love with an author EXCEPT for you and you desperately want that head over heels feeling too? That was sort of my experience with Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, I enjoyed it a lot BUT I was not in love with the audiobook version of it. Of course I am not one to give up so I decided to give How To Save A Life a shot, strictly based on how much I love that song by The Fray and also the cover and then my friends love of Zarr. YOU GUYS NOW I KNOW! I have to read Sara Zarr in print in order to love her books because I was head over heels an emotional wreck while gripping my copy of How To Save A Life. Friends you can give me my card, as I am now a member of the Sara Zarr fan club. I TOTALLY GET IT.
Jill’s father has recently died, leaving a huge void in her life and her mother’s life. Suffice to say, she is not taking it well at all. Unfortunately, Jill shows her feelings by lashing out and pushing everyone away. This is not to say that she is bad person or hard to like, but she’s not handling her father’s death well. Mandy is a pregnant teen who is living in some awful circumstances – her mom thinks only looks matter and believes you need a man to survive. Her mother’s boyfriend has taken an unhealthy interest in Mandy. The two girls come together when Mandy answers an ad by Jill’s mom, and so Mandy goes to stay with Jill and her mother until her baby is born. You see, Jill’s mom is going to adopt Mandy’s baby as a way to fill the void. And really, that’s probably the most concise version of the plot that I can give you.
Sara Zarr’s How To Save A Life is told using dual perspectives. We get both Jill’s point of view and Mandy’s point of view. First things first, Jill was my favorite of the two. Now, I know that most people who have reviewed this seem to think that Jill is not a very nice person. You know, I agree with that assessment of her. However, because I have a big bleeding heart, I felt so bad for her. I felt like she was justified in her reactions. She’s not having an easy go of it, and that’s okay because emotions happen. Things happen. As for Mandy, lol. Just lol. Okay, okay I will stop being an asshole. But, she’s very socially awkward and totally that weird kid and she gets into all these awkward situations, that looking back on this book a few weeks later make me LOL. Awful, I know. Anyways, she’s the sort of character who is desperate for attention and love and the way that Zarr writes her makes you totally feel the desperation wafting off the page.
OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. Okay, so remember Cameron Quick? He’s not in this book. However, there’s totally some romance going on in How To Save A Life. First off, Jill has this ex-boyfriend named Dylan who is rock. You’ll get it when you read it. Naturally, there’s some interest there. HOWEVER, there’s a new guy who enters Jill’s life, Ravi. He is a cool kid and different. And just plain old nice. Friends, I like nice guys and so this book had me feeling satisfied when it came to the romance.
Of course, second to none are the feels. When it comes to discussing Zarr’s How To Save A Life I would definitely fail as a reviewer if I did not mention all the feels. Here’s the thing, I started this book at night, right and then had to go to bed because I just do not have the stay up late ability that other people seem to have. The very next day, I finished this book in my bed around 7:30 in the morning with tears streaming down my face because I was so overcome with emotion. Yes, I am totally THAT person who sobs hysterically at books before I have had my morning coffee or even brushed my teeth. There’s this magical way that Zarr has in describing Jill’s father, though, that made me grieve for him even though it’s not as though he dies during the book. Then, there’s the way she describes Mandy’s home life that again, has my heart sinking to my stomach and me reaching for the tissues. I felt ALL of the things while reading How To Save A Life, and thus recommend it HIGHLY to other emotional readers.
Disclosure: Received at omg please don’t hate on me haters, BEA 2011. I KNOWWWWWWW! I AM THE WORST AT READING DO NOT PELT ME WITH THINGS.
Other reviews of How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr:
Ivy Book Bindings – “I fell hard for the romance in this novel”
YA Love Blog – “Prepare for gushing because this novel is beautiful and amazing.”
Rather Be Reading – “I was completely mesmerized by her writing”
Books by Sara Zarr: