Sara Zarr is an absolute genius. I've only read two of her novels so far, and already she's impressed me with her writing style and the beautifully written voices in her stories. There's so much that she packs into these slim little books that I can hardly believe it.
I bought Once Was Lost after I read and loved Sweethearts earlier in the year. I don't often seek out books that deal with religion or faith, but in the hand of Sara Zarr, I think anything can be possible. Once Was Lost is such an interesting story of faith. Faith that has been shaken on a personal level with the breakdown and dysfunction in one's family but also a shaken faith and belief in the goodness of people in a time of tragedy in a small community.
I really love Sam as the main character of this book. People seem to make a lot of assumptions about the perfection of Sam and her family because Sam's father is a pastor. And it just isn't true. Especially not now, when Sam's mother has been checked into a rehab centre after a DUI. And Sam's father's concentration is less on his family and more on his congregation. Sam feels a bit lost and begins questioning herself and also her faith, especially after her town is rocked by the kidnapping of a young girl.
I love that this story is told in a very gentle manner. And while dealing with some really difficult things, this story is mostly Sam's transformation. She begins as this misunderstood and rather lonely young girl and as the story progresses, she becomes to realise things about herself and her family and her community. It's really well done and I can heartily recommend this book to absolutely everyone.
Once Was Lost made me think and it made me feel. Sara Zarr is an incredible storyteller, don't miss out.