Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Save a Life

How to Save a LifeTitle: How to Save a Life
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
Publication Date: October, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Summary: Mandy has never known what it is like to be loved by a mother, so when she gets pregnant she wants to make sure that her baby is always loved and has a good life. 

Jill has recently lost her father and while living in a world of grief is shocked by her mother's announcement that she is adopting a baby. 

Told from both Mandy and Jill's perspective, we watch as two worlds collide and change. 
What I Think: This is one of those books that reaches into your soul when you are reading it and makes it so you can't stop.  Then when you are done you feel like you just left someone you love because you feel empty.  Both of the girls are just so real! You have Mandy who has left a horrible situation trying to find something better for her baby, but she is so scared of everything because she has never had anything to believe in. Then there is Jill who's perfect life shattered with the death of her beloved father so now she is more of a shell of herself and so angry, sad, and scared of living life again.  As the narrative seamlessly switches back and forth, you feel the fears that both girls have and you feel for them.  

On top of all of this, Zarr masks both girls in a bit of mystery.  When the story begins, even to the reader Jill is jaded and hiding something.  It is only through a special friendship that her true self is revealed. (Btw, there is a scene in the coffee shop with note passing that will never leave me.)  Then with Mandy, you don't know anything about her and parts of her past are exposed slowly throughout the story as Mandy feels comfortable enough to think about them.  And with both girls, your heart strings are pulled in all sorts of different directions.  Such a great book. 
Read Together: Grades 10 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Snatch of Text: 
"Mom and I, different as we are, are twin planets orbiting the same universe of grief
but never quite making contact." -Jill (p. 41)

"We're in the same boat, Robin and me, with fears and doubts, even if they're different for each of us.  We're both going into an unknown future.  But I know if I try to say all that, I'll mess up the words somehow and only worry her more. Lots of times in life, the best thing to do is stay silent." -Mandy (p. 57)

"He'd never rip anything to his computer or listen on an MP3 player - albums were meant to be heard whole, he said, not chopped up and portioned out like hors d'oeuvres.  Albums are meals." -Jill (p. 196)
Mentor Text for: Voice, Multiple Points of View, Perspective, Characterization, Tone
Topics Covered: Grief, Abuse, Death, Teen Pregnancy, Adoption, Family


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