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Once Was Lost [Kindle Edition]

Sara Zarr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed---about God, about your family, about yourself---is transformed.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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. Grades 8-10. --Ilene Cooper


Praise for Once Was Lost
"Zarr sets a hard task for herself here: interweaving a number of strong story strands and giving them equal weight...add to the story's depth." (starred review) (Booklist )

Praise for Once Was Lost
"Beyond delivering a gripping story, Zarr has a knack for exposing human weakness in the ordinary." (starred review) (Publishers Weekly )

Praise for Once Was Lost
"Riveting." (starred review) (Kirkus Reviews )

Product Details

  • File Size: 284 KB
  • Print Length: 214 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B0071UNHXE
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,457 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believer or not, this book is excellent August 20, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet and thoughtful November 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Sara Zarr took inspiration from the Elizabeth Smart disappearance and ran with it to a completely different place, filled with authentic experience and emotion, one that speaks to adults and young adults. It's a novel about faith and doubt when the world intrudes upon already shaky ground, inevitable during the coming of age years, recurring in the adult ones. I believed in the characters, have known people like them, saw bits of myself in several. This isn't light reading, but I was engrossed and never felt preached at during the journey of self-discovery and faith seeking. This isn't a Christian novel, per se, but handles the questions and concerns better than many of the books published specifically for that market. Overall, it is about losing the safety of childhood and discovering one's own faith along the way. Zarr doesn't offer easy solutions or trite answers, but they are real ones, at least for this character and I was fully invested in all of them by the end of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: Once was Lost November 9, 2009
This is only the second christian fiction book that I have read. This was amazing read for me at the juncture in my life. I have found what I have been missing and growing in my own spirituality, so this book was very enjoyable and inspiring for me at this time. I loved Sammy's character; she effectively portrays the wandering christian that is in need of guidance. She is the child that has been had the adult guidance, but now needs to re-evaluate and decide on the future of her own spirituality. In Once was Lost Sara Zarr created a world that is easy to relate and believeable. The sins and struggles that were previewed in this book kept it honest and humbling. Her ability to combined a entertaining young adult read with a lesson shows true talent. I look forward to see what else this author has to offer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zarr's fans will be looking for more almost immediately October 26, 2009
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for a quiet afternoon
The book “Once Was Lost” by Sara Zarr was an absolute pleasure to read! It’s a short and easy read that can be finished in a day or two, even for those of us who are slow readers. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Rebecca
4.0 out of 5 stars A Relatable Journey
The beautiful theme of discovering that which was once lost is masterfully captured in this story. The struggles of faith of Samara Taylor, the pastor’s daughter, are depicted... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Heidi Grether
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing--would recommend to anyone
First, a brief synopsis: This book is about a young teenage girl whose father is a pastor, and how that has affected her and her mother. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marie
4.0 out of 5 stars It is refreshing to feel like you understand the why of the...
Whether or not you are religious at all, Sara Zarr's Once Was Lost presents a compelling story that explores the questions of the soul. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alyson Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars It sucked me in and I had to stay up to finish it.
I started this book this morning – it sucked me in and I had to stay up to finish it. Once Was Lost is a young adult book about a pastor’s daughter. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Inspired Kathy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel About Faith
Fifteen-year-old Sam is a pastor’s daughter who has more than enough reasons to doubt God. Her mother has landed in rehab after a third DUI. Read more
Published 11 months ago by NebraskaIcebergs
5.0 out of 5 stars Ounce was lost
Have not read it!!!!:/
So can I read it now or do I have to do do something else to start????
Published 15 months ago by Amanda Stewart
3.0 out of 5 stars A Coming of Age and Faith story
This was on my to-read list for a few years, and I really don't remember why I put it on my list in particular. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Justice Pirate
3.0 out of 5 stars slow start, gets better
Started out slow, but half way through got interesting but then fizzled out. Not enough detail was given to end story properly. Reader is left guessing as to what really happened.
Published 22 months ago by Maria
3.0 out of 5 stars emotional but well done
I have to admit that I wasn't in the mood to read this one. Sometimes you have to be in the mood for something deeper, and when I read this I really wasn't. Read more
Published on June 24, 2012 by Isadore Ann
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More About the Author

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of five novels for young adults, most recently The Lucy Variations, which the New York Times called "an elegant novel." She's a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner. Her books have been variously named to annual best books lists of the American Library Association, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, the Guardian, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library and Los Angeles Public Library, and have been translated into many languages. In 2010, she served as a judge for the National Book Award. She has written essays and creative nonfiction for Image, Hunger Mountain online, and Response as well as for several anthologies, and has been a regular contributor to Image's daily Good Letters blog on faith, life, and culture. As of summer 2013, she's a member of the faculty of Lesley University's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Sara also hosts the This Creative Life podcast. Born in Cleveland and raised in San Francisco, she currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at

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