Sunday, September 20, 2009

Author Spotlight - Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr is a Utah resident and I try to read local authors as much as possible.  Unlike most Utah authors, Sara Zarr is not LDS, which is definitely not a bad thing especially since it has only been recently that I have started reading LDS fiction again (the writing and the writers have improved exponentially.)

In her own words:  

"I live in Salt Lake City, UT, with my husband, and a parakeet named Peanut. We came here from San Francisco in 2000, thinking we’d give it a couple of years and predicting we’d be high-tailing it back to CA soon after. The place kind of grew on us, and it’s home. For now.
My life is pretty unexciting, in a good way, full of normal things like cooking and cleaning and movie-going and reading and procrastination and lunch dates and good days and bad days and stupid days and boring days. I say this because before I was published I had this idea of what a published author’s life was like, and it’s not. At least, mine isn’t. But, I’ve got great friends and amazing colleagues and a close family. I’m blessed with a good, full life, and am pretty happy with my job."

Sara Zarr has written two YA books called Story of a Girl and Sweethearts.


In the three years since her father caught her in the back seat of a car with an older boy, sixteen-year-old Deanna’s life at home and school has been a nightmare, but while dreaming of escaping with her brother and his family, she discovers the power of forgiveness.

My thoughts:

This is one of those books that is written so realistically with emotion so raw that it's almost impossible to put down.  The story is told from the point of view of 16 year old Deanna Lambert and is set in Pacifica, California.  When she is caught with her older brothers friend at 13, she is labeled by the whole town and her father can barely look at her.  An amazing look at the struggles that teens face.  Deanna is gritty and courageous.  Sometimes I didn't like her and sometimes I loved her -  sort of the way I feel about myself.  Deanna's character is so well written, you will  almost feel that you lived the story yourself.

I have difficulty recommending this book to people because of the sexual content - which isn't overtly graphic, but it is there.  The "F" word is also used a few times and I hate it when books have that word.  Reading it is so much worse than hearing it.
Awhile back I e-mailed Sara and told her how much I liked her book, but felt uneasy about recommending it to people because of the language.  She wrote back and assured me she understood what I meant and that she felt the situation warrented it.  The word is like a slap in the face and that is what she wanted to portray in that scene.  Possibly she is right - I still hate reading it though. So just know it is there before you read. 


When Jenna Vaughn’s childhood sweetheart unexpectedly comes back into her life during her senior year of high school, she is forced to confront her troubled past. This is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

My Thoughts:

I identify with the character of Jenna so much in the way she loses weight before high school and tries to reinvent herself.  Even the childhood friend she had that moved away and she can't forget.  I often think about my friend and wonder what he would be like now and what would have happened if he came back.  Sara wondered the same thing and wrote a very compelling story.   I enjoyed this book a lot, but I'm not sure I like the ending.  I also like how this book is set in Salt Lake City, Utah so the places are familiar to me.  It gives an interesting look at kids who are not members of the LDS faith and how they cope with that.  Jenna attends a private school where none of the kids are members of the LDS church and that is something I didn't realize some kids do.   This book I don't have a problem recommending to people.  Their isn't any language that makes me uncomfortable and the sexual content is minimum.

Zarr's new book - Once Was Lost is debuting October 1, 2009. Can't wait to read it.
For a more in depth look at her books and life - you can find her blog here.


Kristi Stevens said...

Wow, great post.

I love Sara Zarr. She is a gifted writer but also a very kind, graceful women. I admire her courage in writing honest tales that are hard and I wish I had her ability to craft the written word.

Mary said...

You finally commented on my blog. Thanks! Hope to be reviewing your book soon. Hope to get an ARC of it soon.

Juju from Tales of Whimsy said...

These sound really good. Great review.

Kath said...

So I added her books to my list at the library, I'm excited to give her books a try.

I have an award for you! I haven't figured out how to do proper links in comments, so the link is below.

Diana Paz said...

I've heard of Story of a Girl and now I really want to read it, thank you! Sweetheart looks great too, wow :)

KT said...

This is a real cool format. I've read both of Zarr's current books and enjoyed them. I look forward to her newest!