Sara Zarr - How to Save a Life

Jill MacSweeny 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.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.

Confession. I am a huge fan of Sara Zarr's writing.  Huge. Fan. And I'm not the only one obviously, since she received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist for HOW TO SAVE A LIFE! I was excited to read her newest novel and jumped on the chance to feature her new book on the CONTEMPS blog.

It only took a page for me to remember why I love her work so much. The prose is visceral and delicious. I didn't want to stop reading (and didn't until it was finished). 

This story is told from the perspective of two narrators with voices so distinct, the reader has no trouble identifying them.  As she does so well, Sara takes readers deeply into the character's lives. In this story she weaves together the paths of two girls who are so different and quirky, both flawed but very very real. Both Mandy and Jill crawled inside my heart and their story is one that lingers with me even after reading the last page.

It's definitely a must read for Contemporary Young Adult Fiction readers.  And now-- a special treat,  Sara Zarr answered a few questions for The Contemps readers!  

1.       Why do you think that contemporary books are what you write best?

SARA: My first reaction to that question has something to do with "write what you know," but in truth, why any writer writes what she writes is something of a mystery. The human imagination is a wondrous thing. For some reason, mine is centered on teenagers and their families, in present reality, dealing with the kinds of challenges and questions that I still deal with at 41. Also, I'm a very self-aware and self-analytical person, always poking at and working over my emotions, and though it doesn't always make for a fun existence for me, I think that's an asset in contemporary realism.

                2.       Will you write in any other genre (ie, paranormal)?

SARA: I never say never. There are plenty of non-contemporary/realism books that I love, but my own creative imagination doesn't seem to go there. But if it ever does, I will follow!

               3.       What do you love best about your new book?

SARA:  I love the "dual narrators" aspect. It's the first time I've tried that, and I enjoyed, in the process, being able to tell both Jill and Mandy's stories, as well as their joint story. And I'm proud of the result.

Visit Sara
 at her Website,  follow her on Twitter
But most of all read her new book!


Robbie (BoywithBooks) said...

Sarah Zarr is an amazing author. She is also Very Famous. (it's an in-joke)

Janet Gurtler said...

I wish I knew the in joke!
Sara is amazing. I loved her new book!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I'm really excited to read this one!

Denise Jaden said...

I loved, loved, loved this book. And I enjoyed learning a bit more about Sara. Thanks to both of you for the interview!

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