Sara Zarr's books have been on my radar for quite some time but the actual reading of them hadn't happened until this book. I happened to learn that this book was about a pastor's daughter and that was all the motivation I needed. I, too, am a pastor's daughter and I am always interested in how we will be portrayed.
Reading books opens windows into the lives of others but we also read to know we're not alone. Sometimes an author manages to capture a character enough..in their culture, in their thoughts, and actions that our hearts identify...like me.
That's not to say Sam in this book was a whole lot like me. But there were things that happened in the book that felt so familiar and so true...ways of thinking about things. You definitely see certain aspects of your life differently as a PK. Which is to say that your life is not your own. It's everyone in the congregation's business. And there's a kind of unique pressure and blessing all mixed up in that.
In Once Was Lost, Sam feels her dad is too devoted to the church and neglects her and her mother. Her mother does not respond well to the extreme pressure of being a pastor's wife (and yes it is A LOT of pressure)and has been keeping a secret for a long time. She has a drinking problem that eventually lands her in rehab. So it's August when the book opens and Sam finds herself in the crucible...her mother is away, she feels her dad couldn't care less, and her own faith is failing her. And then something happens in their community that will shake not only her faith but those around her to the core.
Sam is a character that feels SO REAL. Her emotions, her doubts, her thoughts, her feelings grabbed my heart with their authenticity. There were times as I was reading that I just felt...I don't know, teary eyed, identified, recognized.
And really the strength of this characterization and journey is all I need to recommend this book. But I'm glad to say that I also love the hope..real true hope birthed from real true trials. There is nothing fake or manufactured about it.
I would have loved this book as a teen myself. I loved it now. I heartily recommend it as a great story about growing up and growing through doubt. Also...I want to say that I fully recommend this book to both general markets and the Christian market. For anyone who has ever doubted, to anyone who has ever wanted to believe and to anyone just looking for a good read.
Things You Might Want to Know: Okay, there are two instances of profanity..but not any of the biggies and I only mention so that you know you can trust me..please don't let it keep you from reading this book.
Source of Book: I picked up this ARC at BEA
Publisher: Little, Brown (LB Teens)