School Library Journal Gr 7-10-For 15-year-old Sam, a pastor's daughter, believing in God was natural until, somehow, a few years back doubt crept in. If God is all good and all powerful, why isn't He fixing anything? Sam's mother's alcoholism resulted in a DUI and landed her in rehab; her father is gone all the time dealing with other people's problems, and he doesn't seem to know how to communicate with his wife and daughter even when he is home. Things ratchet up even further when a local girl is abducted from their sleepy Northern California town, a crisis that drives much of the plot. Then, unexpectedly, Sam experiences a moment when she truly connects with God. Bit by bit, the areas of brokenness begin to move toward healing, although perfection is still a long way off. Sam is a complex and fully formed character whose insight into her own behavior fluctuates in a wholly believable teenage way. Her shy exterior is offset by a sardonic voice, reflecting, for example, on the fact that her alcoholic mother is a better parent than her pastor father. In the background is a beautifully developed metaphor for Sam's life as she tries to find ways to take charge of her backyard, where even drought-resistant plants have succumbed to a massive heat wave. This multilayered exploration of the intersection of the spiritual life and imperfect people features suspense and packs an emotional wallop.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list *Starred Review* It's the end of a long, hot summer, and nothing is right. Samara's mother is in rehab, her father, a popular pastor in their small town, is always busy, too busy for Sam anyway, and then something shocking happens. Jody, a 13-year-old girl, a member of their church, disappears. As the days drag on, Sam finds herself drawing away from her friends and her father, who has a secret she easily guesses, and instead spending time with Nick, Jody's brother, who may or may not be a suspect in the disappearance. Zarr sets a hard task for herself here: interweaving a number of strong story strands and giving them equal weight, even as she tightens the whole with questions about faith and God. While her relationship with Nick does not always seem quite credible, everything else comes together as an impressive whole. Sharply delineated characters and an uncomfortable atmosphere that's more than just the heat add to the story's depth.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly Faith takes a front seat in National Book Award-finalist Zarr's (Story of a Girl) hard-hitting third novel. When 13-year-old Jody Shaw is kidnapped in broad daylight, her abduction rocks the once secure town of Pineview and her church community ("A thing like this changes the way you think about everything and everyone, and you can never go back"). Her dis-appearance provides an eerie backdrop to protagonist Samara Taylor's personal drama: her mother's alcoholism, which prompted a four-week stint in rehab, and her father's refusal to focus on anything (his marital problems, the inappropriateness of his relationship with a 26-year-old church member, his parental responsibilities) other than his role as pastor to a flock in need. Sam's questions regarding God's existence ("Do you just decide that you do believe, no matter what, and then force your mind shut when doubts try to come in?") and her place in the world feel all-encompassing, aptly mirroring the mood of her close-knit community as they trawl for answers in Jody's case. Beyond delivering a gripping story, Zarr has a knack for exposing human weakness in the ordinary. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved