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Once Was Lost


Once Was Lost

Fifteen-year-old Samara Taylor lives a lie. To the outside world, she and her family have the perfect life. But in reality, she feels like she’s exploding into a million pieces. And her parents, the ones who should be able to put her back together, barely notice her plight.

Sam’s pastor father, who is always helping the congregation with their problems, rarely leaves any time to spend with his own wife and daughter. While her mother appears perfect in every way --- always pleasant, always prepared --- in reality, she battles an alcohol addiction and has recently entered a rehab center. Although performing flawlessly in her role as preacher’s daughter, Sam struggles with a new and unnerving doubt that God exists. Throw in money problems and constant scrutiny under the eyes of the congregation, and her life has slipped into a nightmare. 

To complicate matters further, a girl in the church has been abducted --- allegedly by someone she knows --- sending the church and town into an uproar. Sam’s father is needed now more than ever as he must support the missing girl’s family. Sam tries to help out by joining in on the search party and baking brownies with the youth group for the girl’s older brother, but her heart is hurting.

What kind of world is this where an innocent girl is kidnapped? What God would let this happen? Or maybe there is no God after all, she wonders. Sam debates whether or not she should talk about this with her father, but he is far too busy. Besides, with him being a preacher, how could he possibly understand? She longs to speak to her mom, who is away at the rehab center and won’t return her phone calls. So Sam wanders, feeling more alone than ever.

Sara Zarr has bestowed a unique gift to readers with ONCE WAS LOST. She tackles the intricate (and often delicate) obstacles of faith in a warm, welcoming and nonjudgmental approach. Her character of Sam is relatable and believable, providing a bonding point for readers with her openness, honesty and sincerity. Zarr has a real talent for writing deep and raw emotions, sharing and connecting with readers who may be feeling the same as Sam. She cleverly inserts the kidnapping drama, which both supports the part of the story of Sam’s struggle with her faith and provides tension and mystery to keep the pages turning.

This is Zarr’s third book for young adults, and her fans will be looking for more almost immediately.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on October 1, 2009

Once Was Lost
by Sara Zarr

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2009
  • Genres: Christian, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316036048
  • ISBN-13: 9780316036047