Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

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

Author Sara Zarr goes from strength to strength with her writing. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts are both beautifully told quiet and courageous stories but I think Once Was Lost is my favourite so far. 

While the religious premise may make some mainstream readers hesitant, it is so honestly portrayed that it's not about religion at all, rather one girl coming to terms with faith, hopelessness, searching for the truth and trying to find her place in the world: not issues unique to Christians, rather relevant to everyone regardless of religious belief. There was nothing preachy about it (phew!) 

It's a subtle book, unfolding in layers which continually drew me in until it got to a point where I felt deeply invested in the characters lives. It is the kind of book where I held my breath and somehow felt touched and empowered after completion. 

Zarr has an amazing talent and teen voice. Her stories may not feature "original" twist-y premises or jaw-dropping OMG climaxes. Rather they feature layered, flawed and achingly real characters in circumstances that are relate-able ~ her stories feel like the truth and challenge me as a reader. They cause me to think beyond myself and to hope. Once Was Lost felt simultaneously effortless to read yet there was constance depth bubbling away under the surface. 

This was completely absorbing and absolutely touching and the kind of YA contemp that keeps me coming back to the genre for more. 

Also: I should mention her prose is just lovely: simple and flowing and occasionally quietly metaphorical. Gorgeous. 

Recommended: for fans of quiet and compelling and utterly absorbing contemp YA. Sara Zarr is one of my must-read authors. Her books are completely tailored to my taste :) (my taste here being genuine, brave and emotionally resonating reads). It's quietly brilliant <3

Have you read Sara Zarr?

Once Was Lost @ goodreads
My review of Sara Zarr's Sweethearts


  1. glad you like this one, nomes! it's been on my tbr pile since forever (so has sweethearts) and i hope i can get to them soon. sara zarr just seems so awesome, ya know? her new book How To Save A Life sounds soooooooo good.

  2. I haven't read anything by Sara Zarr- clearly I've been missing out. Will aim to recitify this a.s.a.p :)

  3. I have a strange relationship with Sara Zarr's books. I never love them, and they make me uncomfortable, but I can't put the down and I keep going back to them.

    They make me think.

    By far, Once was Lost is my favorite by hers, though. :)

  4. I haven't read any Sara Zarr yet. I have her on my TBR list though. :) Nice review, as always.

  5. Great review! I've been on a contemporary streak for a while now, and this sounds interesting! Added to the TBR pile. :)

  6. I haven't read Sara Zarr yet even though i own Story of a Girl and Once was Lost. I really need too as from your review I think I will adore her. I love the look of her new book too, How to Save a Life, and keep wondering if the title comes from the Fray song or is just a coincidence.

  7. Great review, Nomes. I really have to read this author, I love the reviews you've written of her books!

  8. I have just read this book by Sara Zarr. I agree with everything you said. The prose and the characters are so memorable and beautiful.

  9. I keep seeing this one at the library and never pick it up because I thought Sweethearts was supposedly the strongest of the bunch.

    I'm really interested in this one now that you say you liked it better than Sweethearts.


  10. WANT WANT WANT! I loved Sweethearts so I think I will love this. And you never let me down with a rec Nomes.

    Another beautiful review :)

  11. man, zarr is just RIDICULOUS with how awesome and hurty feely her books are.

  12. This is a good book! And you're right, it has religion, but it isn't preachy! That is something I do worry about when I'm picking up a book featuring religion. Great review!

  13. I've got this one, *sigh* unread but I'm loving compelling contemporary novels so I'm sure I'll love it. Loved your review Nomes :)

  14. Sound lovely and a bit haunting. Have not read any of this author's works, but will have to check her out. Beautiful review!

  15. Ive not read a Sara Zarr book yet but I really want to, this is another one that will have to go on my list!
    Thanks for the great review!

  16. I've read 'Sweethearts' and I did like it, but not a ton. But that was a while ago, when my reading tastes were a bit different. I definitely want to check this one out... I've heard good things about it, and the way you've described it make it sound quite beautiful.

  17. I have heard many great things about this book and it has been added to my tbr list for a while. I haven't read any books from her but they seem great! Can't wait to read the book! Great review!:D

  18. Great book review! Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/08/once-was-lost-by-sara-zarr.html

    Thanks and have a nice day!!!


Thanks for the commenty love :)

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