Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Save Yourself

Published: October 18th, 2011
How To Save A Life
By: Sara Zarr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 9780316036061

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.


   Jill MacSweeney is still grieving hard for her Father, who died very recently in a car accident.  So she is resentful when her Mother decides to adopt a baby, because she feels like she's trying to replace him.  Mandy Kalinowski just wants a way out of her messed up life.  She doesn't know if the baby is a result of a one-night stand at the county fair or the product of sexual abuse by her Mom's boyfriend.  Either way, she knows she can't take care of it and Robin MacSweeney seems like a good person to entrust the baby to.  When Mandy comes to stay with Jill and Robin for the last month of her pregnancy, will they manage to keep each other from breaking down or will they all fall apart completely?  Mandy begins to have second thoughts about the adoption, but will she keep her promise?  This book was heartwrenchingly beautiful.  I am not a huge Sara Zarr fan and I could take or leave her other books.  But this one was love at first sight.  I was glad that it was from Mandy and Jill's points of view alternately.  I really sypmathized with Jill's problems and she was a great girl at heart.  But being from the wrong side of the tracks myself, Mandy really tugged at my heart.  By my Aunt's husband I was voted most likely to be a teen Mom and I always wondered what my decision would be if I did become one (I never did BTW).  I loved the realistic relationships between the characters and the ending was awesome, but I'm not gonna say anymore for fear of spoilers.  I couldn't put it down and it's the best contemporary fiction book I've read so far this year! :)

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

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