How to Save a Life- Sara Zarr.

Synopsis from Goodreads.
Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to 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. You can’t lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that’s exactly what it feels like she’s trying to do. And that’s decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows 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, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

“And here I am, all of those small hopes getting me from one day to the next, the way they my whole life.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Wow. Captivating.

High Point.
The ladies. The gentlemen. Train stations. Raw. Emotional. Coffee. Pancakes. Pho. Old friends. New friends. Moving on. Siblings. Cornfields, Ferris wheels and stars.

Low Point.
This isn’t really a low point but I couldn’t really think of one so I’m clutching right now. The ending was a little predictable but I think I would have been angry/upset if it hadn’t ended like that.
Also… I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read a Sara Zarr book.
See, clutching?

The Girls.
Jill: Angry. Grieving. Prickly. Moody. Judgemental. Alternative (piercings, y’all. Definite sign of a delinquent). Alienates herself and everyone. A bad friend. A crappy daughter. A worse girlfriend.
Verdict: I spent half the time wanting to punch her and tell her to stop being such a massive bitch.
Mandy: Sad. Insecure. Screwed up. Unloved. Needy. Nervous. Stalker-ish tendencies. Creepy. Odd. A fondness for bad television.
Verdict: I wanted to give her a massive cuddle…. Then back away slowly while trying not to make any sudden movements and then proceed to move house and change my name so she’d never find me.
Gosh, these ladies certainly didn’t make it easy for me to like them.
I didn’t agree with most of the things they did and I disagreed with about 96% of the decisions they made. I didn’t actually like them at all.
But reading about their journeys, learning to trust, love, develop as people and find their place in the world was so compelling, I honestly didn’t want to say goodbye in the final chapter.
I wanted to find out what happened to Jill and Mandy and I wanted to fast forward to a couple of years’ time and find out if they got the ending they so desperately wanted and needed.
I hope so.

The Boys.
I don’t want to go into Mandy’s boys because it makes me too sad and I don’t want to spoil anything.
So that leaves me with Jill.
I know what you’re thinking. Boys? Plural? TWO BOYS?
Surely you… surely you can’t mean a…. a….
NO. I do not mean a love triangle. Well… technically… but no. It’s not. AT ALL.
Dylan and Ravi were my favourite characters in this story. They were so strong and caring and patient and so sweet and provided most of the comic relief. They were the boys you wish were in every YA book, because they also weren’t afraid to call Jill out when she was being a Grade A so and so.
Because like I said… jeez, these girls were difficult to love and these guys have the patience of a saint. Both these guys got a bit of a rough deal in this story.
My favourite was Ravi. He’s definitely the kind of boy I would pretend I liked coffee for. Yeah, my love ran deep for Ravi.
But I did develop a certain soft spot for Dylan with his bleached hair, tattoos, piercings and… yes… even his eyeliner.
Um… well no, the eyeliner still bothered me. But that’s nothing a face wipe won’t sort out.

Theme Tune.
I struggled with finding a song for this because it’s such a complex story and it’s not an easy one to pin down (as you can tell by this haphazard review).
Also, no prizes for guessing which song I’ve had in my head all week.
So I know I’m kind of copping out on this one because it’s mentioned quite extensively within this book.
But why would I bother trawling through my music when I have a stellar song already provided for me?

Sadness Scale.
10/10. This book made me ache with… I don’t know what. Sadness? Yes. Anger? Yes. Butterflies? Yes. Hope? Yes.
It is so obvious that raw, brutal emotions are Ms Zarr’s speciality. I know a lot of people will have problems with the ending and, like I said before, it is a little predictable but it never strayed into the overly-saccharine territories that it could so easily have done.
Without getting too sickening and cliché on you, the reason why I didn’t cringe at the ending was because it was far from twee, with everything tied up in a pretty little box with a convenient bow. Jill and Mandy came a long way in this book… but that final couple of chapters illustrated they still have a long way to go.

Recommended For.
People who are looking for immaculately written, contemporary YA fiction. People who are looking for their mirror image. People who love train journeys. People who like bad Mexican food and pancakes. People who would like to go on a stakeout with a tall, dark, stranger. Coffee not included.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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3 thoughts on “How to Save a Life- Sara Zarr.

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