Reviews for How to Save a Life


AudioFile Reviews 2012 April
When her mother suddenly decides to adopt a baby, Jill's life becomes emotionally chaotic. Jill is still reeling from her father's death and is now dealing with a stranger, a pregnant teenager, living in her home. As Jill, Ariadne Meyers gives a powerful performance, evoking her alternating fear, grief, and anger. Mandy, the pregnant teen, abused and on the run, is terrified that Jill's mother will discover her deceptions about the forthcoming baby. With a young, breathy voice, Cassandra Morris perfectly conveys Mandy's emotional na├»vetÚ as she struggles to do the best thing for her baby and longs for a loving home like the temporary one she's found. Well-cast dual narration enhances the emotional depths of this story. J.M. (c) AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #4
Jill is still reeling from the death of her father a year ago. She just can't seem to find the Jill she used to be and doesn't know who she is anymore. And now her mother announces that she is adopting a baby, and that the mother of this baby, Mandy -- eighteen, pregnant, and alone -- will be coming to live with them until the baby is born. This introspective novel that deals with grief, teen pregnancy, friendship, and family is told in two distinct voices; fittingly, the audiobook does the same. At first, narrator Meyers, as Jill, appears to be the stronger of the two, but as Mandy's character grows and matures, so does Morris's portrayal of her. Both narrators nuance the characters and lend a youthful voice to the readings, and though occasionally it is difficult to tell the difference between internal dialogue and what is spoken aloud, overall this is a fine production of the novel. angela j. reynolds

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 April

Gr 8 Up--Sara Zarr delivers a touching, heartfelt tale (Little, Brown, 2011) of love, acceptance, and healing. Reeling from her father's death nearly a year earlier, Jill MacSweeney hides her intense grief behind a wall of anger that has isolated her from friends and family. Then Jill's mom decides to adopt a baby from Mandy, a pregnant teen she met online. Mandy will be staying with the MacSweeneys until the baby is born. Jill is less than thrilled. Meanwhile, Mandy struggles with the scars of her own mother's neglect and worries that the baby might be a result of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. Can these two very different girls overcome their individual doubts and learn to accept their situations--and each other--so that they can heal from their painful pasts and move on to brighter futures? Although the ending wraps up a bit too neatly, this is a beautiful and worthwhile listen. Told in alternating chapters and narrated to perfection by Ariadne Meyers and Cassandra Morris, Zarr has created an exceptional story highlighted by outstanding character development. Initially, Mandy comes across as vain, more than a little creepy, and seems far younger than her 18 years--despite the hard life she's experienced. Jill, at first, is closed-off, angry, and difficult to like. As the story progresses, listeners will gain a profound understanding of both girls and grow to love them in spite of their faults and quirks. Collections will benefit from the addition of this extraordinary audiobook.--Alissa LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI

[Page 58]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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