Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of three novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), and Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009, Utah Book Award winner, INSPY winner). Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain online, Response, and several anthologies. Zarr’s fourth young adult novel, How to Save a Life, will be published in October 2011.

A couple of weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard. It's one of those books I put on my Kindle awhile ago, and I don't remember where I heard about it or what compelled me to buy. This happens a lot with e-readers. It's so easy to impulsively buy stuff the moment it catches your ear, and then later on when you finally return all your library books and get through the stack by your bed and you're on a plane, you turn on the Kindle and find all these books that you forgot about, and it's not like you can browse the flaps so you just dive in.

Here is the opening paragraph:

"We can't believe the house is on fire. It's so embarrassing first of all, and so dangerous second of all. Also, we're supposed to be in charge here, so there's a sense of somebody not doing their job."

On that same page we learn the narrator and her best friend are 14-year-old babysitters. (But this is not a young adult novel.)

The first page made me ask, Where have you been all my life, In Zanesville?

The crush has bloomed as I've read. I'm most impressed by and envious of Beard's ability to capture the kind of detail of everyday life--especially adolescent everyday life--that most of us overlook, not just in writing about life but in living it. It's a book that is simultaneously entertaining me and teaching me how to be a better writer.

I have since discovered that Beard is someone I should have heard about before now, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.
Visit Sara Zarr's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue