Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of several Young Adult novels. Her debut, Story of a Girl, was nominated for the National Book Award and featured on the ALA Best Books for Young Adults. How to Save a Life, the first of her books to be published in the UK, has received widespread critical acclaim.
Zarr (How to Save a Life) doesn't waste a word in this superb study of a young musical prodigy trying to reclaim her life. Sixteen-year-old Lucy Beck-Moreau has led a privileged and extremely focused life in San Francisco as a renowned pianist. Her mother and grandfather have provided her with the best teacher money can buy and ensured that she has entered the most prestigious competitions. But when Lucy refuses to perform in Prague after hearing her grandmother has just died, her career unravels. She retreats into the shadows, letting her talented younger brother, Gus, take center stage. After the arrival of Will, her brother's vibrant new instructor, Lucy begins to reconsider her decision to stop playing piano. Like every teenager, Lucy has moments of self-doubt, self-centeredness, regret, infatuation, and humiliation. This multifaceted characterization makes her a deeply real and sympathetic character, and that dimensionality extends to the rest of the cast. The pressures Lucy is under feel powerful, immediate, and true-her journey of self-discovery will strike a profound chord with readers. Ages 12-up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 8 Up-When 16-year-old Lucy walked out of a concert in Prague two years earlier, following a devastating discovery, her grandfather and mother abandoned their dreams of her career as a pianist. With Lucy's younger brother, Gus, now the rising star of the family, she must adjust to life as an average high school student. But the arrival of Will Devi, Gus's new piano tutor, inspires Lucy to reexamine herself and challenge her family's assumption that she lacks devotion to her craft. Though self-possessed and intelligent, Lucy is often an impulsive and uncertain protagonist, which makes her an at times frustrating but always realistic adolescent with whom readers will readily identify. Adult characters receive an equally rich treatment; Lucy's cold, dominating grandfather in particular reveals a softer side that keeps him from verging on cliche. The novel's measured plotting, which includes brief flashbacks to Lucy's previous life, effectively conveys both the rigorous discipline and joy that defined her commitment to music. The quiet, restrained prose is well suited for this thoughtful story about the struggle to find one's voice. Exploring relationships is where Zarr soars; in addition to Lucy's difficult rapport with her overbearing mother and stern grandfather, she must also cope with Gus's anger and jealousy as Will's interest in her career grows, her increasingly strained friendships, and her complicated feelings for Will himself. This strong coming-of-age story about music, passion, and the search for identity will appeal to longtime fans of Zarr's work and newcomers alike.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
'Beautifully and sensitively drawn' - Lancashire Evening Post; 'An achingly poignant read' - The Daily Mail on How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr; 'A sensitive and gripping story of love, music and family' - So Little Time blog; 'Lucy's San Francisco family want her to be an international piano star - until she refuses to continue, at which point their attention switches to her younger brother. High spots include the relationship between the family and the new piano teacher, and Lucy's mother eventually finding the strength to support her' - The Independent on Sunday; 'Poignantly tackles the themes of grief, passion, relationships and music' - Yateley News and Mail; 'Lucy's quest for authentic self-expression balanced with humility and an awareness of other people's needs and points of view is one that should resonate with all teens' - Carousel; 'It would have been easy for Zarr to fall into the trap of painting a picture full of the details of a musical career, convincing enough but unappealing. Instead she gives the reader just such a detailed picture, but also... a convincing and three-dimensional presentation of Lucy, depicting the complex elements of her relationships with her family, her friends and her tutors' - Books for Keeps