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Booktalking "What We Lost" by Sara Zarr

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Being raised by a pastor must be a dream come true, right? Not if your alcoholic mother is in rehab. Samara's father seems more present for the parishioners than for his own daughter. And he doesn't quite know how to come to terms with his recovering wife. Erin, the youth group leader, is spending an awfully lot of time catering to Samara and her father's needs—cooking lasagna, Pastor Charlie's favorite meal, and delivering it to their house with a smile.

Ralph, her grey-haired kitty, keeps the high-schooler grounded.

One Sunday after church, 13-year-old Jody Hathaway disappears. College-bound brother Nick is on the suspect list, and he seems to be spending much time alone with Sam. Her father is making a habit of dumping her at her best friend Vanessa's house so that he can help the Hathaways.

The youth group serves as a third place for the youngsters, and they work out what is going on in the community, including searching for Jody and dealing with the pastor's wife's illness. Together, they bake brownies for Jody's family. Samara is the lucky designated delivery girl, along with Erin.

Sam wants nothing more than for her family to reunite and become functional. Tired of caring for everyone, she struggles with her life the way it is and will be.

What We Lost by Sara Zarr, 2009

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