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Once Was Lost

Book Review:
By Sara Zarr

Oh, Sara Zarr! I have been waiting all of my life for this book. This is the book I longed for when I searched the shelves of my local library; the one I could only dream of while perusing the big bookstore when we went to the city. You did it, although too late for the girl I used to be, the teens of today will find it. And love it.

In her latest novel, ONCE WAS LOST, Zarr shows the truth of growing up as a child of faith – one immersed in the church. Although my father wasn’t a pastor like the father in the novel, other relatives of mine were and our lives revolved around our religion. What Zarr does – through the eyes of the main character, Samara Taylor – is deftly illustrate the way a church family can simultaneously feel like a cozy comforter and a smothering blanket. Samara has to pretend all is right in her world, even with her mother secretly stashed away in rehab and her father keeping other secrets. When a tragedy strikes at the heart of the youth group, Samara finds the fabric of their lives ripped open and exposed.

It is appropriate that this book debuts during the Banned Books Week because there will surely be some short-sighted people who won’t see this book for what it truly is. It is not an attack against religion. ONCE WAS LOST is a beautifully written novel that accurately portrays the way a youth group is an extended family, the way the congregation treats their pastor, and the unconditional love that you can find. Although Samara, like most teens, has questions, the answers that she finds by novel’s end will lift your heart.

More than once this novel brought me to tears with its revelations into Samara’s life and I wanted it to go on and on. ONCE WAS LOST shows struggle and redemption, forgiveness and transformation. Sara Zarr is a decidedly skilled writer who weaves themes of family, love, and faith throughout a novel that families should embrace and discuss. Thank you, Sara Zarr for writing this novel. This is life. This is truth. This is what faith looks like.


ONCE WAS LOST on sale October 1, 2009, through Little, Brown and Company. Get a copy from an indie bookseller today!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 2nd, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
Absolutely beautiful review of a beautiful book. Well done, Marjorie AND Sara!
Oct. 2nd, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you Emily - I am glad you liked the review. It was so easy to write because Sara's book spoke to my heart. What a lovely novel!
Oct. 2nd, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
I can hardly wait for this one. I may need to go get it right now, in fact!
Oct. 2nd, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, you must! Don't delay! :) (and then...enjoy)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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