TGIF- June 1st

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads.

The question this week is: What books have you found to be very rewarding when it comes to tacking tougher issues?

I’m not known for reading a ton of “issue books”, but I think an author who nails it every time, without being too preachy about her views, without being too depressing and while still being able to convey a sense of hope in everything, is Sara Zarr.  I have loved every one of her books.

Story of a Girl deals with promiscuity and more than anything, with forgiveness—forgiving one’s self, forgiving someone who has wronged you and forgiving those who don’t want to forgive you.  This was my first Zarr and I was blown away by the emotion she was able to get across with her clean, beautiful writing.


Sweethearts deals with child abuse and friendship and how people cope with pain.  It is such a good book with this beautiful friendship that could probably be so much more if it weren’t for all of the crap that these kids go through together. On the other hand, it’s all of that crap that bonds them together. This one made me cry just a bit, but it was so worth it.

Once was Lost really spoke to me on such a personal level. This is about a girl who has been raised in the church (her father is a pastor) and who has to maintain a certain image because of her family. She reaches a place where she isn’t certain what she believes, if her faith is her own or just something her parents have passed down.  There is so much more to the story, but faith—in God, in the people we look up to, in those we rely on—is the main theme. OK, I cried here too.

Oh, I love all of Zarr’s books, but How to Save a Life is my absolute favorite.  Here she deals with grief, with teen pregnancy and with abuse, but the main theme is truly about hope and family.  She asks what makes a family, she shows that there are options for those who feel trapped, and in every way, she shows that even after tragedy and loss and heart-break life goes on.

Honorable Mention:

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney is an excellent picture of a girl who fights back after she’s date raped.  Whitney laces the story with ideas from To Kill A Mockingbird, which only made me love it more.  Definitely read it.

Have a great Friday!

4 thoughts on “TGIF- June 1st

  1. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sara Zarr’s books, and I have a couple on request from my local library – hopefully they’ll come in at some point! I tend to steer clear of heavy-duty YA “issue” books, but when the issues are woven in well with the story, then I’m more inclined to give them a go – and I do like an optimistic (if believable) ending!

    • I’m the same way with “issue” books. Zarr books great because they aren’t super-huge downers but they tackle the issues honestly. That’s what I love about her. She always maintains a sense of hope.

  2. I love, love, love Sara Zarr. She’s a personal favorite. I would also add the books of Margie Gelbwasser who isn’t as well known but handles tough subjects (alcoholism, date rape, abusive relationships) in a genuine, thoughtful manner. I can lend you “Pieces of Us” if you’re interested. And of course Laurie Halse Anderson’s books.

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