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review: “once was lost” September 18, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr.
Little, Brown // ARC // 224 pages.
Reviewed from ARC provided by the publisher.

Questioning her faith isn’t supposed to be old hat for Samara Taylor. After all, she’s the pastor’s kid. Her faith is supposed to be a foundation for the community, unshakable. But few in town live Sam’s life and when her mother is forced into rehab after a DUI, her faith begins to falter. Once a local girl goes missing, Sam struggles to hold everything together as her father dedicates his time to the missing girl’s family. Her town shaken, Sam watches as her life continues to unravel as everyone around her begins to change…again.

A very real, authentic portrayal of a young adult struggling to make sense of the world around her, a world where she rarely has control over the situations, a world where bad things happen to good people.

I think that every teen/young adult goes through some sort of faith crisis. It’s that moment where you realize that you are not invincible and that the world is not always kind. It’s not always a religious crisis, sometimes it’s a simply a questioning — “Why do these things happen?”

Zarr tackles this in her book flawlessly. Sam’s questions are valid. The people around her have their own battles with faith and their own conclusions. All of these are real. All of these are believable for me.

The supporting characters and subplots in the novel are excellent. Sam’s relationship (or lack thereof) with her father is carefully crafted. Both parties are sympathetic. Neither seems to know what to do and it’s a good thing, I think, to show that adults are often lost. Adults also have issues with their faith.

I loved Sam’s budding romance. I loved Sam’s conflicting views on Erin and her involvement in their family. I loved that people made mistakes, that people were human in this book.

The resolution is a tad bit tidy, but I think that’s allowed in YA. The resolution does not distract from the messages that can be drawn from the book, from the story given to readers.

A highly recommended purchase, it will be gracing the shelves of my library come October, when it’s released.

SWAN catalog
Sara Zarr




1. Mandy - September 18, 2009

Huh, I’ve never heard of this one. Thanks for the review. It looks awesome. I’m always looking for YA with questions of faith as part of the story.

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