Friday, October 21, 2011

Blog Tour: Sara Zarr on How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life
Sara Zarr
Published October 18, 2011
Little, Brown


Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about what it means to be a family and the many roads we can take to become one. -
Goodreads
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I'm excited to have Sara Zarr on the blog today for a tour thanks to Little, Brown! Sara's newest book, How to Save a Life, hit shelves on October 18. She is also the author of three other YA books - Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), and Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009). 
Thanks for stopping by, Sara!
 
 1) What inspired you to write for the YA genre?
I've loved YA since first discovering it in the form of Robert Cormier, Judy Blume, Norma Fox Mazer, M.E. Kerr, Madeleine L'Engle, and the other writers who were prolific during my adolescence. When I started writing my own stories, they always involved teen characters, so I guess it just sort of happened. What inspires me to stay in it, fifteen years after I started writing, is that realization that the work of growing up is never truly done. YA fiction is a great place to explore the issues that circle back to us again in our thirties, forties, and beyond.

2) Who is your favorite character in How to Save a Life and why?
Oh, how can I pick a favorite of my creations! Okay. I must say that though Ravi is tall, dark, and handsome, and a good guy, I have a fondness for Dylan, Jill's on-again, off-again first love. He's that steady sort of best friend boyfriend you get so comfortable with that you wind up either marrying, or initiating a breakup with so that you don't settle into something before you know who you are.

3) Out of all your books, is there one book that you relate to the most? Which and why?
Each of my books contains a part of my emotional autobiography. The events of the books don't necessarily mirror anything in my life, but the issues the characters struggle with are mine. So I relate to all of my books that way. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't have written them, because every story I go into involves something I'm trying to figure out.

4) With all the criticism directed at YA lately, there was a big movement on Twitter about how "YA Saves." Do you have any feelings about this and the criticism that has been directed at the YA genre lately?

I think the criticism is misguided. I think it's based on an idea of young adult fiction that is past its time--that young adult readers are children, and the books for them should teach a lesson. To me, the "YA Saves" movement is just the other side of the coin of that viewpoint...that books should "do something." When I write a book, I don't think about it teaching or saving. I'm a writer, trying to tell a story that for whatever reason I've been given to write, and do it to the best of my ability. Certainly, stories can be powerful and influential, and I agree that ultimately the best books do "do something," and possibly even save. But that's something that happens outside of the creative process. And hey, you know, people are welcome to criticize YA for any reason they want. But it seems like YA authors are expected to have some sort of defense for themselves and their work that those who write about adults are not.

5) Anything you want readers to know about How to Save a Life?
I've noticed a lot of the blog reviewers talking about the heartbreak in the story, and reporting tears as they read. There are some pretty emotional moments. Let me say, though: It's also funny! It has energy! And caffeine and romance.

6) Is there anything else you would like to add? Anything we should know about you and your books?
I'm grateful to readers, and everyone who has supported my books. Thank you so much!

 
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