How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life - Sara Zarr is fast becoming one of my most favorite authors. Where [a:E. Lockhart|173491|E. Lockhart|](I hate comparing authors by the way) is also writing realistic contemporary young adult fiction but doing it in a humorous light-hearted way, Zarr approaches darker topics and writes in a very emotionally compelling way. I love both Zarr and Lockhart and despite that they are both writing in the same "genre" it is hard to imagine they are actually writing in the same genre. If that makes any sense .... but both authors bring such a realistic flavor and almost tangible reality to their books that it does seem they are contempories of each other.How To Save a Life centers around three women -- a high school daughter (Jill), a widowed mother, and a pregnant high school drop out (Mandy) hoping to give her baby up for adoption to the widowed mother. Jill's father recently passed away suddenly and his loss has left a huge hole in her life and her mother's life. Jill is hurting, has alienated her friends and boyfriend and is maybe interested in a different boy. In contrast, Mandy has been mistreated and neglected by her mother and others all of her life. Mandy has a dark secret and is running from her mother. Each woman is struggling and suffering, but the girl in this story that truly needs saving is Mandy. The story begins with Jill judging Mandy and hating her. She sees what she wants to see, she judges Mandy for being less educated and seemingly simple. Mandy is desperate to fit in, to be wanted but is convinced she is unwanted. She is struggling with her love for her unborn baby and her belief that she will be a useless mother. How to Save a Life had me crying at points. It had me unable to turn off the audio book (the narration is great). It had me pondering the effect that parents have on their children even with the smallest interactions. It had me thankful for my bed, my couch, the food in my refrigerator and my mother. We see Mandy's amazement at a leather couch, a soft clean bed, and a refrigerator full of food. And it had me wondering -- how I can help kids who are abused and neglected in the way that Mandy was. But don't worry, I think if you don't want to be emotionally affected this is still just a good story to listen to or read. If you want the deeper message, it is there. Zarr is great at exploring issues of sexuality and teens. I cannot wait to read her other books.