Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

This summer, Sam's life is pretty much falling apart. In the middle of the hottest, driest summer ever, the A/C is on the fritz, and the ceiling fan in her room just ground to a stop. Her mom's gone, in rehab at New Beginnings, and nobody's really sure when she's coming home- and she won't return Sam's phone calls. Her dad is the only young pastor at one of seven churches in the tiny town of Pineview, and he's super busy with work, leaving Sam responsible, which is tough when there's no money. It's also tough when you're the pastor's daughter and everyone in town thinks they know everything about you - and when everyone is wrong, because nobody knows any of this, and Sam can't really tell anyone, and the people she can, she doesn't really know how. Or want to.

Stuck at home with no A/C (or fan!) and nothing else to think about, Sam is stuck in a state of hot, worried boredom. Until the Sunday evening after church she turns on the news. That morning, Jody Shaw sang a beautiful solo in church. That morning, Jody's cute brother Nick kicked her in the shin at youth group, and she yelled at him. And that afternoon, Jody vanished on her way to the ice cream store.

Instantly, the whole town bands together to search for Jody. Sam is desperate to find her, desperate to make something go right. A media circus descends on Pineview, and Sam's dad, Charlie, becomes the unofficial spokesperson for the Shaws, leaving Sam even more alone than she already was. Sam doesn't know what to do, or who to talk to, or what to believe in anymore. When your own life is falling apart, what do you do when the whole world seems to be falling apart?

I hadn't read anything by Sara Zarr before, but Katie read Sweethearts last fall and loved it (see what she had to say in last fall's realistic fiction post). After reading Once Was Lost in one big gulp, I'll definately be sliding her other books to the top of my reading list! Short but immensely powerful, Sara Zarr takes a look at what happens to faith, hope, and trust when everything Sam thought she believed in is suddenly fraught with doubt, anger and confusion. With the underlying mystery of what happened to Jody Shaw, Sam and her dad have to figure out what it really means to believe in family, God, community, friends, and, perhaps most importantly, in each other. Check it out @ the library - this is one book you can believe in.

(who can't wait to start Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, the highly anticipated-by-me sequel to Lament)

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