Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mini-review: Once Was Lost

Mini-reviews are where I write about books that I want to mention but am either too lazy or too busy to write a full-length review for. I say what I thought about the book in 5 sentences then share a quote I liked from the book.

Once Was Lost, by Sara Zarr. The summary:
As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy into the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town goes missing, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed--about God, your family, and yourself--is transformed.
Sara Zarr is one of those authors who tends to write books (“Story of a Girl,” “Sweethearts”) that I appreciate but don’t fall in love with--like, I enjoy them once but don’t read them again, or if some asks me I’ll be like, “It was good” but I don’t go out of my way to recommend them to everyone I meet. And “Once Was Lost” falls into that category too--it was good, but we’re not setting a wedding date or anything, ya know? But it was definitely a solid book--well-written, great characters, tough issues--and I honestly can never figure out why I don’t adore Sara Zarr, since those are all the things I love in a book; we just don’t click I guess. I thought it was pretty gutsy for Zarr to deal with teen spirituality, since it’s a subject most YAs don’t ever deal with; and Zarr deals with it fairly well--it doesn’t feel like the author’s pushing one way or the other about religion, but still Sam’s struggles feel honest and understandable. Overall, a really great book, especially considering it deals with religious faith, a fairly taboo YA subject; the ending was maybe a little too perfect, but since I like happy endings I was willing to overlook it.

The quote, pg. 100:
All I can do is nod. He touches my hair. I look at him. Considering everything, he might actually be doing his best. I’m disappointed but also know that if I really thought about it, I could probably come up with at least as many times he’s kept his word as times he hasn’t. Most of all I want to believe--in him, in God, in our family--the way I used to. It used to be that there was always one of them I could count on. If Dad was lost in his work, Mom and I had each other, even if it wasn’t perfect. If Mom was lost in her drinking, Dad would pull us together and get us back on track. And I was always sure God hovered around there among us, somehow.

Right now it’s like we’re three islands, and nothing but oceans between us.

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