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How to Save a Life
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How to Save a Life
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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. When...
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. When...
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Description-

  • 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. 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.
 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Sara Zarr was raised in San Francisco, California, and now lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the author of The Lucy Variations, How to Save a Life, What We Lost, Sweethearts, and the National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl. Her website is www.sarazarr.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 24, 2011
    Seventeen-year-old Jill was dealt a shattering blow when her father died unexpectedly. Since then, Jill and her mother have been distant, like “twin planets orbiting the same universe of grief but never quite making contact.” Now her mother plans to fill the void by adopting a baby. As far as Jill is concerned, the plan is “lunatic,” but Mandy, the pregnant teen giving up her child, is relieved. She thinks she’s finally found a way to escape her emotionally abusive mother and her mother’s sexually abusive boyfriend by coming to live with Jill and her mother during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Alternating between the perspectives of Jill and Mandy, National Book Award–
    finalist Zarr (Story of a Girl) crafts intimate and authentic portraits of two vulnerable teens struggling to cope with uncertain futures. Independent and aggressive, Jill has little in common with Mandy, who’s sheltered yet very observant, but they form a sisterly bond as they face personal crises. Their slow, cautious efforts to build trust and better understand the meaning of family are expressed with the deepest compassion and kindness. Ages 12–up.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 1, 2011
    Still reeling from the death of her father, 17-year-old Jill resents her mother's plan to adopt a new baby. When soon-to-be birth mother Mandy arrives, she brings with her more than any of them imagined. Struggling with the loss of her like-minded father, guilt over her failings as a daughter and her heart, which she fears is permanently sealed, Jill is determined to dislike Mandy. Her resentment, fueled by inconsistencies in the young mother's story, drives her to find an investigator. When a startling phone call exposes Mandy's darkest secrets, Jill finds herself more confused than ever. Mandy, who knows firsthand what it is like to grow up unwanted and unloved, is determined to find a better life for her baby. But what if, in the meantime, she can find a better life for herself? Told from the perspectives of both Jill and Mandy in alternating chapters, this moving story explores love, loss and whether a family can be more than the sum of its parts. Jill's cynicism is the perfect counterpart to Mandy's hopeful naiveté. Likewise, Mandy's vulnerability highlights Jill's tough independence. Woven together from two simple threads, the resulting tapestry is as beautiful as it is real. A story that will resonate beyond its final page. (Fiction. 12 & up)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from December 1, 2011

    Gr 8 Up-High school senior Jill is grieving the death of her beloved father. She's distanced herself from her friends and long-term boyfriend, and her relationship with her mother, Robin, is strained at best. Things get even more complicated when Robin announces that she plans to adopt a baby, and that the baby's teenage mother, Mandy, is going to live with them until the delivery. Jill can't understand why her mother would make this choice, especially when Mandy turns out to be secretive, amazingly naive, and, in Jill's mind, suspicious. Told from alternating perspectives, the teens' compelling stories unfold with heart-wrenching angst. Jill is terribly unkind to Mandy, whose obvious reluctance to talk about her past doesn't help matters. Mandy guards not one secret, but many, all of which may jeopardize her relationship with Robin and therefore the future of her child. As Jill comes to terms with the abrupt and shocking changes her family has undergone, and Mandy grapples with shifting emotions toward the baby she's carrying, the girls somehow find an intersection at which they can begin to understand the other's experience. Another heavy-hitting page-turner from Zarr, this book will appeal to middle and high school girls across the board. For fans of Jacqueline Woodson's The Dear One (Delacorte, 1991) and Jessica Warman's Where the Truth Lies (Walker, 2010), it's a must-read.-Nora G. Murphy, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, La Canada-Flintridge, CA

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from November 1, 2011
    Grades 8-12 *Starred Review* When high-school-senior Jill MacSweeney learns that her widowed mother has agreed to an open adoptionno lawyers, no agencies, no background checks, no binding agreementsshe is appalled and even more grief-stricken. Of course, her mom is lonely, but you can't just replace your husbandher dadwith a baby! To make matters worse, the baby's mother, Mandy, will live with Jill and her mother in the last month of her pregnancy. Told in the alternating voices of Jill and Mandy, this multilayered, complex story of life, death, and the meaning of family will simultaneously distress and gratify. The characters are achingly human. Jill, bewildered at the unexpected death of her father, has shut out her friends completely. Her mother, so ready to nurture and care for another, finds herself unable to cross the barrier of silence and grief Jill has constructed. Mandy needs a mother, not a baby, and cannot bear the thought of giving up this suddenly secure life that she has happened upona life her new baby will enjoy without her. Filled with so many frustrations, so many dilemmas needing reasonable solutions, and so much hope and faith in the midst of sadness, Zarr's novel is a rich tapestry of love and survival that will resonate with even the most cynical readers.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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