ARC Review

ARC Review: How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr

Jill MacSweeney 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.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Physical copy of the book by US Borne YA in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I lost someone quite close to me in the middle of reading his book – a book that is all about one’s personal experience with grief and moving on with living, when a huge chunk of your life is now missing. So please forgive me if this review is choppy and muddled – because this loss definitely changed the way I experienced the second half of the book and my views of the characters profoundly.  

The plot of the book is slow, steady and subtle in its progression – it is a realistic in its portrayal of an apprehensive teen going through pregnancy and another teen who lost her father, her support system, prematurely. Though the book starts with gloomy points; there is an undercurrent of hope and heartening as well.  

The most surprising part of the book is that even though I definitely enjoyed the subtlety in the plotline; I definitely didn’t, for a moment like either of the main characters.  

Jill lost her father, suddenly – but through most of the book, it’s clear that even though she knows the kind of relationship that her parents had; she never really empathizes with the pain that her mother must have been going through, pain that must have been different for her, but equally distressing. She knew she was being short, irritated and rude to her mother, but she make any conscious effort to change her attitude.  

Mandy, on the other hand, has had a hard knock in life; and as a consequence of those issues, now finds herself pregnant as a teenager. She has problems recognizing social cues, which tends to put her and the others around her, sometimes in awkward situations. She also had a hard time trusting people around her; because people who were supposed to protect her, let her down every time. Though it was easy to understand why she is the way she is, I still couldn’t bring myself to like her.  

I don’t know to what extend my loss influenced my rating or my experience – but I do know it made me appreciate the subtlety of the author’s writing style about two characters I might not have liked, but definitely relate to.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ . 25



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