As a pastor's kid, Samara Taylor is supposed to have a good relationship with God and an unshakable faith. But a lot of things in her life have made Sam a doubter. With her alcoholic mom in rehab after a DUI and her father more concerned with his congregation and appearances, Sam can't help but feel as if God doesn't exist. And that feeling is only compounded when a local girl is kidnapped, turning her whole community upside down.
Once Was Lost is a blunt novel of faith and what happens when everything you believed in is changed irrevocably. Sam is a very convincing and relatable character that readers will be able to connect with on any level, especially as her doubt about her beliefs is something that nearly ever person has confronted at least once in their lifetime. She brings up issues that some people may not think about, like not being included with friends because of her beliefs and who her father is. Zarr also does an excellent job at portraying the tense setting as the whole town deals with the kidnapping and fear begins to control others and accusations are slung left and right.
The best thing about Once Was Lost though is that it doesn't concentrate on the all of the things that go wrong, like the kidnapping, Sam's mother's DUI, or inappropriate relationships, but rather examines its affect on Sam and her faith. Once Was Lost isn't a hugely dramatic novel full of twists and turns, but it is a gripping, sometimes heartbreaking look at how ordinary people learn to deal with a less than perfect world. Zarr's latest book is an excellent, non-preachy look at faith and religion that any reader, believer or not, can enjoy.