Review: How To Save A Life

10757806 How To Save A Life
by Sara Zarr
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Age Category: Young Adult
Release Date: October 18th 2011
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Jill MacSweeney 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. And 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.


“Life doesn’t have to be only anxiety about what’s gone wrong, and complaints about the world around you.”

I confess I wouldn’t have picked this book up if it hadn’t been perfectly suitable for three of my challenges. And for a while after starting it, I was tempted to put it down. But I’m really glad that I continued with it.

“Sometimes trust isn’t something you can just choose to do even if it makes sense. All my life the only reliable person, the one I could count on, the one who hasn’t abandoned me, is me.”

How to Save a Life follows the story of Jill MacSweeny and Mandy Kalinowski, two girls as different as day and night. Jill, after her father’s death an year ago, has been avoiding everyone who loves her. Mandy is a pregnant teenager. Both of them started out to be unlikeable. Though I much preferred reading from Jill’s POV than Mandy’s. Mandy started out so awkward and needy that like Jill, I thought she was nuts. I connected more to Jill, even though I have never experienced loss as great as hers. But both of them went through extensive character development, and I loved them by the end.

“My whole life has been one big broken promise.”

I thought this was going to be a easy and feel-good read, as I has initially started it without reading the blurb ( yeah, I tend to do things like that). But it was SO MUCH MORE. The characters were complex, and Zarr executed the storyline perfectly. And the ending was perfect. It was what I had hoped for all along.

“No one measures a life in weeks and days. You measure life in years and by the things that happen to you.”

All in all, I loved this book – the story, the characters, the writing, the ending – everything was perfect. Definitely recommended!

Have you read How to Save a Life? Is it in your TBR? If you have read it, then what are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!



11 thoughts on “Review: How To Save A Life

  1. I’ve definitely seen this book floating around! I read Sara Zarr’s novel The Lucy Variations, which I kind of liked, but kind of didn’t! I’ve been debating if I should pick up another book of hers! Great review! I love your heading and signature font/color—>super cute!!


  2. I haven’t read this one!! I haven’t even heard of it , omg, but it sounds so incredible and those meltable characters? SIGN ME UP. *dashes for goodreads*


  3. That sounds wonderful, Divya! I remember thinking contemporaries were boring, flirty, small minded creatures with no heart, and BOY WAS I WRONG. These babies can break your hearts and kill you slowly, and that’s what I gathered from your review. Emotional investment for a contemporary is KEY, and it looks like this has succeeded in that department! Lovely review 🙂


Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s