Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review of Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

once This is a book about a young woman questioning her faith --and she has good reason to question it.  Her father is the pastor in a small town with one post office, one hardware store, only one restaurant that’s open on Sundays, but seven churches.  Even though everyone knows pretty much everything about everyone else, something no one seems to know is that Sam’s mother is a drunk.  Then Sam’s mom is in rehab, court-ordered after a drunken-driving accident, and Sam is left alone with her father, who seems to have infinite time for his parishioners’ problems, but no time for his own daughter or to visit his wife in rehab. The author describes Sam’s disillusionment perfectly when giving Sam’s reaction to a poster in the youth group room that shows a bunch of happy, multicultural-looking teens and the slogan: Community Happens! “I stared at that poster and pictured myself in it, smiling, knee-to-knee with the other youth group kids, who would be my best friends…Because, as we’re reminded all the time at church, community happens through sharing…I believed in  the theory, and expected that once I hit high school my life would be filled with all this understanding and friendship and spiritual bonding, and my faith would come alive, just like the poster promised.  It hasn’t really happened that way.”  Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, a 13-year-old member of the youth group, Jody, disappears.  Sam’s lack of faith intensifies, and it’s clear that part of the problem is her lack of faith in her own father. As he’s getting ready to leave to visit the family of the missing girl, this is how Sam sees him: “He was strangely calm-looking, his tan face smooth, his hair in place, jaw set. It dawned on me that in a way he’s been prepping for a tragedy like this all his life; he’s like an actor getting his ultimate role.  For someone whose career is believing in God and convincing other people to, this is exactly the kind of thing that would give him a chance to really prove that everything he’s been saying is true.”  I absolutely love this book.  It’s a perfect combination of characters, setting and plot.  Review by Stacy Church