Sunday, July 18, 2010

ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr

Faith is what gets many through the tough times.  Samara "Sam" has been raised surrounded by faith and believing in miracles, but lately a number of things have her doubting those beliefs.

Sam is a PK (preacher's kid) and held up to expectations she is beginning to resent.  Her father spends 60-70 hours a week doing church business.  He's a great guy, and she knows he's a terrific help to the members of his congregation, but his dedication to them often leaves Sam and her mother without his support. 

Her mother doesn't handle this well.  For years she has been a secret alcoholic.  For years she has managed a delicate balancing act that has fooled her husband and the members of the church, but the gig is up.  Sam and her father have checked her into rehab.  Though Sam has been covering for her at home and even out in the community, she misses her mother terribly.

Then a tragedy hits the community.  A thirteen year old is kidnapped in broad daylight.  The girl is a member of Sam's father's church so he is called to provide spiritual support for the family.  Since Sam's mother is currently unavailable, she finds herself either alone or pawned off on her best friend's family. 

All of this comes at a time in Sam's life when she is seriously questioning her faith.  How can God let these things happen?  How has He let her mother's life spiral out of control?  How can He let her father get so involved in everyone's life and so uninvolved in hers?  How can He let an innocent thirteen year old disappear on a bright sunny afternoon?

Author Sara Zarr explores the idea of losing faith in ONCE WAS LOST.  "Lost" has many meanings in this novel from the literal to the spiritual.  Most of her characters are fighting a battle to find their way along some personal journey.  Life is a confusing enough, but when events and relationships leave Sam and others with questions about a greater purpose, they struggle to cling to the idea of miracles or whatever helps them make sense of their world.

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