Sunday, October 23, 2011


Jill describes losing her father as losing the mirror that reflects who she is.  He was the only person who truly understood her and could help her see how she influenced others.  Since his death she has isolated herself from all of her friends except Dylan, and even their relationship is rocky at best.  Now her mother has come up with a totally crazy idea that just might be more than Jill can take.

Jill's mother has decided to adopt.  Using an open adoption website, she found an eighteen year old interested in giving the baby she is carrying up for adoption.  The two have communicated through emails and the time has come for the young woman to travel to Denver where she will live until she delivers the baby.  Jill does not approve of what she considers to be a rash decision, but her mother insists on moving on with or without her daughter's blessings.

Mandy, the mother-to-be, arrives and moves in with Jill and her mother.  The tension threatens to smother Jill.  She turns to her boyfriend Dylan for support, but he isn't as understanding as she would like.  Convinced that Mandy is simply after her mother's money, she enlists the help of a new acquaintance at work and, in the process, begins to fall for him.

Author Sara Zarr uses alternating chapters to tell the story so readers are able to learn not only Jill's feelings about the potential adoption, but also the feelings of Mandy and the complicated events that have led her to the decision to give up her unborn child.  HOW TO SAVE A LIFE illustrates that love comes in all shapes and sizes and affects everyone differently.  Zarr deftly manipulates her characters through intense emotions as they work to deal with grief, fear, and the uncertainty of life.

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