readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

rgz Street Team: Vanessa Reviews Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

The rgz Street Team is a group of teens who bring YA reviews to our blog, led by Postergirl Miss Erin. Find out more.

Today, Vanessa reviews Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr:

"Sara Zarr did a great job handling the touchy subject of religion in Once Was Lost. We meet Samara Taylor, a pastor's daughter going through the ups and downs of life under a microscope. We see right away how hard it is for Samara to find her own faith in God when always forced to put on the happy show for the church's parishioners. Now with her mom in rehab, her dad constantly busy, and a girl from church gone missing, Sam's faith is more confused than ever before.

"Dealing with a missing person in a small town puts stress on everyone involved. With Sam's pastoral dad drawn into the mix to comfort the family, Sam ends up getting a lot of alone time. We see lots of inner conflict and self-exploration, but not in a boring way. Sam's thoughts are both revealing and confused at once. She's not afraid to say 'I don't know what I want' when she gets to those moments of unrest without explanation. We don't leave Sam there, though. We see her become true to herself, re-establish some relationships, and finally come to terms with God in her own way.

"As a church-goer myself, I will admit that I was antsy at the beginning of the story. 'Is this going to be one of those anti-God things?' I asked myself, unsure of how I would feel at the end of it. I was pleased though. Zarr brings Sam to a peaceful point with God that doesn't seem forced in any way. Readers will understand that God is available if they look, while not feeling pressured by a sparkly altar scene.

"With my background, I think this book is the perfect exploration of some of teens' big worries about religion. Sam voices the very questions on God that every teen asks. Do her answers come? Not really. At the end Sam finds peace in faith, but without any blazing lights or theological discussions. And that is how faith is, stepping out of the box and realizing that some things are not meant to be completely understood. Sara Zarr plays neutral, but hits with 100% accuracy. Job well done." -Vanessa

PS-Read the Cover Story for Once Was Lost.


Melissa Walker said...

So glad Sara got it right, and I'm not surprised. Thanks, Vanessa!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I really appreciated your review, Vanessa. Spot on honesty!

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