How to Save a Life

Publisher: Usborne

Jill's life changed forever when her beloved father was killed in a car accident. Her friends, her boyfriend, her plans for college - nothing seems to matter to her anymore. Reeling from her loss, she isolates herself from her friends, taking refuge in sarcasm and cynicism. Meanwhile, Jill's impulsive mother, Robin, is dealing with her grief in her own way: Jill is horrified when she discovers Robin is planning to adopt a baby via an internet bulletin board because she isn't 'ready to give up on love'. 

Robin's sudden decision brings pregnant teenager Mandy into the family home, and into both their lives. Although Jill and Mandy are much the same age, they couldn't be more different, and are immediately uncomfortable with each other. Suspicious of Mandy's motives, Jill becomes increasingly gruff and brusque, whilst Mandy, unwanted by her mother and abused by her stepfather, delights in all the attention she's receiving from the doting Robin. Yet although Mandy might seem very different from Jill on the surface, she can be just as determined and stubborn when it comes to one thing - ensuring that her baby never has a life like hers, whatever it takes.

Told through the two very different voices of Jill and Mandy, this compelling young adult novel from US author Sara Zarr deals with challenging themes such as teenage pregnancy, bereavement and abuse with sensitivity, warmth and a touch of humour. Carefully balanced, with complex, rounded and believable characters, Zarr manages to sidestep sentimentality in this moving and memorable story. How to Save a Life is a thought-provoking young adult novel about the meaning of family, friendship. growing up and coming to terms with loss.

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