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Reviewed by Emma Megan for Readers' Favorite
Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold by Nina Purtee is a gripping young adult coming-of-age novel. It follows Sarah Wilkinson as she rises from the ashes as a phoenix and discovers what she has to live for and offer to the world. At ten years old, Sarah's charmed life and happiness shatter instantly. Not only does her mother die, but her father also decides to leave her. Sarah ends up living with her grandmother and mourning the loss of her parents alone. However, Sarah's life starts to turn around for the better when she discovers her interest in art and painting. As art becomes the friend she is missing, she learns about the French artist Rosa Bonheur, born in the 1800s, and Sarah's determination to be the best artist she can be intensifies. Will Sarah find the courage to get past all the heartbreak and loss to build the future she deserves and soar like a phoenix?
Finding Sarah is a fabulous mix of intrigue, adventure, travel, mystery, and romance. This unforgettable and powerful YA novel is well-written. In it, a young artist experiences tragedy, sexual awakening, friendship, love, and heartbreak and learns to forgive and offer second chances. It is the kind of book that breaks your heart and then mends it, and you will finish it with a smile and a long, satisfied sigh. The characters are believable, relatable, skilled, empathic, and well-developed. Nina Purtee's book teaches the reader that it is possible to go into the future inspired by the past and not be burdened by it. I recommend it to anyone who loves to paint and enjoys coming-of-age stories, romances, and books with fierce female protagonists.