Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Review: Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Once Was Lost is just how Sam feels right now.  She used to believe in God and in family.  Now, her mother is in rehab and her father takes better care of his congregation than his only child.  When a shocking kidnapping takes place in her small town, Sam is forced to think deeply about what she believes and what exactly that belief means.

Once Was Lost

Things I Liked:
This was such a thoughtful and complex book.  I was really drawn into not only the story of the kidnapping and all that entailed, but the emotional and spiritual feelings Sam experiences.  Her thoughts and the logic of her thinking felt very real.  I think many teens and twenty-somethings will see a part of themselves in Sam.  At some point, people who have been brought up in a religious home will have to think through and even question those things.  Zarr shows this in a realistic way.  As Sam deals with the problems and continual bad things happening to her, we feel just what she does and understand why she feels that way.  I'm completely impressed with Zarr's ability to write a book about religion that isn't sappy or preachy.  Here are some thoughts that really struck me:

Most of all I want to believe - in him, in God, in our family - the way I used to.  It used to be that there was always one of them I could count on.  If Dad was lost in his work, Mom and I had each other, even if it wasn't perfect.  If Mom was lost in her drinking, Dad would pull us together and get us back on track.  And I was always sure God hovered around there among us, somehow. p100
It's not words, so much, just my mind going blank and thoughts reaching up up up, me wishing I could climb through the ceiling and over the stars until I can find God, really see God, and know once and for all that everything I've believed my whole life is true, and real.  Or, not even everything.  Not even half.  Just the part about someone or something bigger than us who doesn't lose track.  I want to believe the stories, that there really is someone who would search the whole mountainside just to find that one lost thing that he loves, and bring it home. p199
Things I Didn't Like:
I really can't think of anything I didn't like.  It's not a super fast read or something you can rave about (see Hunger Games 3 post), but it will really make you think.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (in some ways)

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (a little bit)

s-factor: !
a very few

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
nothing is described, but stuff about the kidnapping is sometimes intense

Overall rating: *****

Which do you prefer - fast-paced, action-packed or slower, thought-provoking books?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Sounds like an interesting read. Great review!

  2. I have got to move her books up on my TBR list...

  3. Dana, thank you! I highly recommend it (obviously).

    Britt, I didn't like Sweethearts very much but this one blew me away!

  4. This is one of those books that I so needed when I was about 17 years old. It sounds amazing. Thanks for the great review :)

  5. I think I would have enjoyed it even more as a teen as well. Let's hope it makes it into the hands of lots of teens!

  6. Great review! Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/08/once-was-lost-by-sara-zarr.html

    Thanks and have a nice day!!!


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