“Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to 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. You can’t lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that’s exactly what it feels like she’s trying to do. And that’s decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?
Mandy Kalinowski knows 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, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?”
Okay, sometimes a book just breaks your heart. I mean, rips it out of your body and stomps on it. Hard. But then the same book can pick up the pieces of your heart, glue them back together, give it a big hug and return it to you, better for what it went through. That’s how I feel about How to Save a Life. This book killed me, but in a good way, you know?
Both girls are so different, in their upbringing and personalities, but I felt so strongly for both that sometimes it hurt. I mean, they are both going through so much. And the complexity of the situation was written beautifully. And because the author switched back and forth from Jill to Mandy, it was heartbreaking to see the near misses and misunderstandings between the two girls.
I’m trying to write a thoughtful review without gushing or giving anything away. But this was such a beautifully, wonderfully wounded story that I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings into anything solid, so bear with me. For some reason How to Save a Life hit me pretty hard, emotionally. I think in part because of the way Zarr wrote it. Both girls were very matter of fact about the shit in their lives, Mandy in particular. The lack of overly “poor me” vibe throughout the book only made things more emotional for me.
The ending took me a bit by surprise and could have been turned into an overly sweet Hallmark card moment, but Zarr`s writing kept it in check.
This was just an unbelievable book where every word rang true and hit the mark. One of the best contemp I’ve read not just this year, but EVER. I really can’t recommend this one enough, guys.