Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr Once Was Lost
217 pp.  Little, Brown and Company.  2009 ISBN: 978-0-316-03604-7

Sam is a pastor’s kid and she’s living a life full of doubt.  She has doubts about what will happen with her mom now that she’s in rehab after a DUI.  She has doubts about her father’s love for her and her mother since he’s so preoccupied with his congregation.  Sam’s biggest doubt is in her faith after a young girl she knows goes missing from their small town. 

Sara Zarr’s debut novel Story of a Girl was a homerun with me.  It’s definitely “unputdownable.”  I enjoyed reading Once Was Lost, but it didn’t have that same “Wow!” factor.   Zarr took her time developing Sam’s story and character before she threw in the twist involving the girl gone missing.  I understand her reasoning, but it hindered my immediate enjoyment of the novel.

I’m still impressed, however, in Zarr’s ability to strongly develop a character.  Even though I’m not a pastor’s kid, Zarr wrote Sam’s character in such a way that the reader can still relate with how she feels.  Her life has been turned upside down, but Sam doesn’t feel like she can talk about any of it without being judged or misunderstood.  Her dad won’t tell the congregation about her mom, and he won’t even talk about it with Sam.  Who can Sam possibly talk to about doubting her faith when an outsider would expect her to be secure in her faith?  Sam has these questions and fears running through her mind constantly as the book progresses, and any person who has felt lost or confused should be able to relate to this.      

Overall, even though I haven’t been rating anything, I’d give Once Was Lost 3.5 stars.


  1. Great book 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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