Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review: Once Was Lost

This is my favorite young adult book I have read, in a long time. This was my first book I have read by Sara Zarr, and I really love her style and approach to storytelling. She really is a great contemporary read. She doesn't write anything that is immature or mature. She is wonderful. 

Once Was Lost, was a different type of novel than I have ever read. She took a very unlikable complex character and made her entirely approachable. I really didn't think I would like Sam, she is moody and a bit of a complainer. She is constantly making everything about her.

“I wonder how you're supposed to know the exact moment when there's no more hope.”

The main character Sam is a teen girl who is really ostracized by her status of a paster's daughter. She is a girl struggling with her faith, even though she must pretend to be a devout Christian, perfect daughter, and good role mood. Which you have to admit is a lot to place on a young girl. The problem is her life is really far from perfect. Her mother is currently in court-ordered rehab, after a DUI, her dad barely has time to even care about her issues and overall she is growing more and more depressed. When a horrific tragedy happens, her small little town is shaken, and Sam begins to doubt her faith in God. 

This is a book about faith, make no doubt, but it isn't about a preachy religious faith. There is no agenda in this book. It is more about how to find faith, and about having faith in the people who are around you. It's about having faith in your family. It is about how you figure out as a young adult that life isn't perfect, your parents can have issues, and that people all make horrible mistakes. The title even takes about this message, "Once was lost, but now am found." is the song of amazing grace. That'ss what this book is about. Finding your faith, finding your purpose in life. 

But the message this book has is so much bigger than just faith. It is also about repression and denial. The mom is in denial of her issues for most of the book, dad was in denial of everything Sam was going through. Also same was in denial, she was in denial of her emotions. The anger, jealousy, her grief and the doubt she felt, all pushed to the bottom. She was keeping it all bottled inside her. Through, out the book, we watch this part of her crack. Of course, we know that she will develop into herself, as is Sara Zarr nature. 

Links to purchase: Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Abe Books // Book Depository // Better World Books //  Indigo 

Goodreads Description: 

Once Was Lost is a quiet, moving novel – rich with authenticity and meaning – that addresses a complex issue in an approachable and balanced manner. 

This was a quiet wonderfully moving novel. A novel about how we find faith and learn how to be authentic. It addresses major issues in a good, clear, non-judgemental manner. I recommend this to fans of contemporary and young adult fiction. 

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.

About the Author:

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at

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