Once Was Lost

by Sara Zarr

When a DUI sends her mother into rehab at the New Beginnings Recovery Center, Sam... read more

When a DUI sends her mother into rehab at the New Beginnings Recovery Center, Sam feels her absence like an acute pain. Even while helping her mother hide her increasing drinking, Sam had felt connected to her in a way that’s missing with her father. A charismatic and popular preacher in their small town, her dad willingly helps everyone in the congregation with their problems but is unable to talk openly with Sam about their own family. Meanwhile, Sam is questioning her religious beliefs and feels like an outsider in her church youth group. When a young teen from the congregation vanishes, Sam is worried for her; at the same time she feels both eager and wary regarding the new romantic overtones in her friendship with the missing girl’s brother. Sara Zarr captures small-town social culture with credibility, while developing characters of all ages that are realistically sympathetic and flawed. In less skilled hands, the storyline about the girl’s disappearance could have easily fallen into melodrama, but Zarr keeps it grounded and believable. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010

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