How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

I really like Sara Zarr, but I’m not a fan of her narration of her books, so I was pleased to see this audiobook had another narrator, two in fact; Ariadne Meyers and Cassandra Morris.  The book is written from alternate view points.  One voice is that of 18 year old Mandy, who is expecting a baby and has arranged to have an open adoption with a recently widowed woman, Robyn.  The other voice is Robyn’s daughter Jill.  Jill has been depressed since her dad died and she has isolated herself from all her old friends and her boyfriend.  Jill Is very upset about Mandy coming to live with them, the adoption and everything.  At one point she even calls Mandy an incubator and asks someone to investigate Mandy to see if she’s pulling a scam on her mom.  The reader who does her voice captures her sarcasm while Mandy is read with a young, naive voice.

As to the title, there is more than one person whose life needs saving.  None of the characters is perfect,all are complex, even Robyn who seems so together is completely inattentive to Mandy’s neediness.  I’m not sure if I can buy her unawareness, considering her level of education and the good job she’s done as a parent to Jill.  Is she blinded by her own desires to adopt Mandy’s baby or am I seeing something that isn’t there.  Since we don’t really know what’s going on in Robyn’s mind, it’s hard to say.

Characters who seemed weak turn out to be stronger than you would have thought.  It is a moving book about abuse and neglect but also family, love, life and redemption..  .

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Off biking for the rest of the season

Last Sunday I fell of my bike and broke my collarbone.  I was coming around a blind curve and met someone going the other way.  Braked suddenly and went flying.  Two wonderful doctors came up on bikes right behind me and took care of me until an ambulance arrived.  Thanks so much to you anonymous helpers.  Anyway, I had surgery on Wednesday and will be resting for a while.  You’d think I’d be reading away, but I’m not able to keep my concentration so well, so it’s been slow going.  Hopefully that will improve.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

“The first thing Dad does is hang the Seurat in our new living room. It’s not a real Seurat, because that would make us millionaires. It’s a poster from a museum. I feel a little better as soon as I see it on the wall above the couch, exactly where it always was at home.”

Georges’ architect father has recently lost his job, so consequently  his family has sold their home and moved to an apartment a few blocks away in Brooklyn.  He is named after the painter Georges Seurat, whom he calls Sir Ott.

Georges is in 7th grade and has no friends there; his former friend having started hanging out with the popular crowd.  At school he is teased and bullied mercilessly and called Gorgeous. But in his apartment building he meets an eccentric family with a boy his age, Safer, and a 10-year-old sister, Candy, with whom he becomes friends . Georges’ mom works double shifts at the hospital everyday, so he never sees her. Everyday they leave each other notes with scrabble pieces like “Kangaroos are quiet … love me.

There’s a mystery here as well in which Georges joins Safer in on the mysterious Mr. X.

Rebecca Stead has a unique voice. Liar & Spy has delightful eccentric characters, themes of loneliness, fear, bullying, and family.   “Like Mom says, life is a million different dots making one gigantic picture. And maybe the big picture is nice, maybe it’s amazing, but if you’re standing with your face pressed up against a bunch of black dots, it’s really hard to tell.”