Sara Zarr's latest book, How To Save a Life, is further evidence of Zarr's writing talent. I have read other books by Zarr, and each time I feel her work is somewhat like Sarah Dessen's, another YA author, and Jodi Picoult, who writes for adults. These authors are able to create stories that are easy to become absorbed by, impossible to put down.
How To Save a Life is narrated by two girls: Jill and Mandy. Both girls are very different from each other. Mandy is a pregnant, unwed teen, planning to give her baby to Jill's mom to adopt. Her home life in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is less than ideal and she was sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend. Her decision to leave and give her baby a better life is one that took great courage.
Jill is angry with her mother's decision to adopt. The two are still grieving the death of their father and husband. Jill no longer has friends, although she and her boyfriend, Dylan, are still struggling along. When Mandy comes to live with them, Jill is not happy about the decision, but is also suspicious of Mandy's motives.
Zarr's story is so interesting and I could appreciate both Mandy and Jill's perspectives. I enjoyed how things unfolded as well. And, I loved the Denver setting. Having been to Denver, I could picture the area where this story takes place and see the cliff divers and monkey at Casa Bonita.
Zarr's latest book is a definite must read for young adult readers who enjoy realistic fiction.