HOW TO SAVE A LIFE SARA ZARR PDF

Author Sara Zarr captures real, unsentimental emotions as two teen girls from opposite worlds are thrust together at the cusp of womanhood. Harsh, punky Jill MacSweeney is mourning the death of her father—and not doing a great job of it. She has alienated everyone in her life, finding it easiest to be cold to those she loves the most. Her mother, in an effort to fill the void left by her husband, decides to adopt a baby. Timid, dolled-up Mandy Kalinowski from Omaha answers her plea and travels across the country to stay with Jill and her mom until the baby comes. She has plenty of secrets, but her greatest concern is finding a better life for her child than her own.

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Mar7 Originally published at Breakpoint. Then, Samara must learn to love and accept imperfect parents and an imperfect and questioning self. I loved the way the novel dealt with faith questions without over-simplifying or stereotyping the Christian characters. Jill is an upper-middle-class, pierced-to-the-hilt child of privilege whose mother is a liberal career woman do-gooder with a heart for giving to others. Does Jill have the ability to overcome her misgivings about the adoption and become a loving older sister?

Does Mandy really want to give up the only thing that has ever been completely hers, her own baby? The issues the story raises about adoption, trust, differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, parenting, and grieving are all well-integrated into the narrative and thought-provoking.

On the other hand, I hated the fact that Jill and her boyfriend just had to fall into bed together as an expected and natural part of their reconciliation, about a third of the way through the novel. Since I read in a blog interview with Zarr that she is a Christian and that most of what [she writes] does not directly incorporate faith, but all of it is written from [her] Christian worldview, I expected to see that worldview in How To Save a Life.

And I did. Although the dual narrators, Jill and Mandy, are explicitly non-religious, each of them comes to a place of change in her life that seems almost impossible apart from the hand of God. Either way, mature readers, both Christian and non-Christian, should see themselves in both Mandy and Jill as they struggle to change and trust each other across an economic and cultural gap that threatens to overwhelm their tentative and flawed attempts at understanding.

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