Rant and Rave: ‘How to Save A Life’ by Sara Zarr

Everyday, many stories are written and printed– most of them with the same generic plotline of typical teen romance. These stories are easily forgettable because they are common. There are, however, stories that move people and draw them into a world beyond paper and ink; case in point, How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr.

Image courtesy of Audible

How to Save A Life is a novel told in dual perspectives of Jill MacSweeney and Mandy Kalinowski. Jill is a troubled girl whose father just died; she wants things to go back to the way they were. Mandy is an unusual girl, unwanted by her own mother, who becomes pregnant and wishes for a better life for herself and her child. Their lives are interlaced when Mandy agrees to give her baby up to Jill’s mother.

Great power and impact come from the quiet gravity and subtlety in which Zarr wrote her novel. The dual perspectives captured the characterizations between the two main characters. Many can interpret the themes in the book in different ways; the book though still feels personal – much like a conversation with a friend. Jill and Mandy’s stories were rich with plain detail, which gave the book a more sincere feel.

A concrete plot did not drive the book; it was a little difficult to get a good grasp of the story. Zarr gave the facts abruptly, which neither gave suspense nor a proper holding point for the readers to feel any impact. Moreover, the language used was elementary, and the story’s ending seemed too sudden. Either ways, the book is difficult to remember, but utterly impossible to forget.

Jonnah Dayuta

By Jonnah Dayuta

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