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Lusty Lady

Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr sucked me in

I have what I guess could be called a bad habit of skipping from one book to another. It's not necessarily because I don't like the one(s) I'm reading, but more that my curiosity about whatever's new compels me to start reading whatever catches my eye, to see if I must read it right away. And in the case of the new YA novel How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (who's on a book tour), the answer is yes, I need to devour it ASAP. I got it for free from Amazon Vine in the mail today and am already totally engrossed. The story is told from alternating viewpoints, that of Jill, whose father has died ten months previously and her mother decides she wants to adopt a baby, and Mandy, who is pregnant and looking to give her child up for adoption. One of my favorite novels tackling pregnancy and motherhood (and, in that case, OCD) is Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio, which I'd like to reread. The way the three narrators in that story, including a fetus-turned-baby, collide and contradict and interact, is marvelous, but that's another post (been thinking about it, and mentally ill, possibly unreliable narrators and how fascinating they are after finishing excellent OCD young adult novel A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone).

Someday maybe someone can teach me how to properly use Blogger and indent and make things look pretty like I can on Tumblr. Until then, my ham-handed clumsyblogging, alas. Speaking of this blog, I'm looking into revamping it (I know, it's forever overdue, but rent paying takes priority). Stay tuned! From How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, from Mandy's POV, as she's riding on a train to meet Jill and her mom for the first time:

"Um, hey." He shifts his body so that he's sitting on his side, facing me and leaning close. "It's Peña, by the way. My last name. And I'm..." He laughs. Lines appear around the corners of his eyes, and there's tea on his breath and stubble on his chin. "This is stupid. I'm not really married. I just said that because I thought you were trying to hit on me or something, and it seemed kind of weird, because...well, then I thought obviously picking up some stranger is the last thing on your mind right now. And you're probably half my age, and most likely you have someone, anyway, given..." He gestures to my belly. "That."

This rolls inside me, stretches a limb. I touch where it moved and wonder if it can feel my hand there.

"I'm nineteen." Almost.

"There you go. That's exactly half. I'm thirty-eight." He sips form his cup. "So, how long before you're a mother?"

I smile. I'll never be a mother. "About a month, I think."

Alex scratches his stubble. "Most women I know can tell you to the minute."

"I'm different." Being so specific with dates is silly. No one measures a life in weeks and days. You measure it in years and by the things that happen to you, and when this life is a whole year, I won't be in it."

That passages was so bold to me; I'm fascinated by Mandy and what she's going through to deal with her pregnancy, how tough she sounds, even though I'm sure as the novel progresses (I'm on page 22), that toughness will have to crack a little. And the "This rolls inside me" line also was so powerful, and taught me more than that umpteen writing books strewn around my bags and my floor about what I want to learn how to do with my fiction.

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