Review: Kyra Just for Today by Sara Zarr

Kyra, Just for Today by Sara Zarr cover shows a girl standing at the water's edge on a sandy beach, looking up and shielding her eyes from the sun.

Kyra Just for Today
Sara Zarr
Balzer + Bray
Published March 5, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Kyra Just for Today

From award-winning author Sara Zarr comes a gorgeously crafted and deeply personal story about a young girl, her alcoholic mother, and the hope that ties them together. Krya has always felt like she’s a bit too much. Too tall. Too loud. Too earnest. But she’s okay with that, because she’s got her mom. Ever since Mom got sober about five years ago, she and Kyra have always been there for each other—something Kyra is thankful for every week when she attends her group meetings with other kids of alcoholics. When Mom is managing her cleaning business and Kyra is taking care of things at home, maybe, she thinks, she’s not too much. Maybe, she’s just enough.

Then seventh grade starts, and everything Kyra used to be able to count on feels unsure. Kyra’s best friend, Lu, is hanging out with eighth graders, and Mom is unusually distant. When Mom starts missing work, sleeping in, and forgetting things, Kyra doesn’t dare say “relapse.” But soon not saying that word means not saying anything at all—to Lu or to her support group. And when Kyra suspects that her worst fears might be real, she starts to question whether being just enough is not enough at all.

With sensitivity and candor, acclaimed author Sara Zarr tells a heartfelt, personal story about finding hope in even the most difficult places, and love in even the most complicated relationships.

Kyra Just for Today on Goodreads

My Review

I haven’t read everything by Sara Zarr, but I’ve really enjoyed the books I have read. She has this incredible ability to bring complex family situations and complex emotions or relationships to the table in a way that feels vulnerable and authentic and never preachy.

This book also nails that transition from childhood to adolescence, where so many of our friendships change. Sometimes the connections we treasured morph or stretch into new shapes. Having those changes on top of Kyra’s worries about her mom made for a story with a ton of emotional depth.

The scenes in which Kyra attends a support group for kids who have loved ones who are alcoholics were incredible, too. I think I sobbed through a couple of those right along with the characters in the scene. They were so moving.

All this makes the book sound like it’s packed with big emotions and tears, and there are some heavy scenes, for sure. I also enjoyed the scenes that showed how friendships can surprise us and how watching a beautiful snowfall can make everything else fade away for a little while. I cracked up during one scene in the cafeteria.

I think kids navigating transitions in friendships will enjoy the peer relationships in this book. I was around this age when it became openly discussed in our family that one family member was an alcoholic. I really didn’t understand what that meant beyond the excessive drinking behaviors, so a book like this may have really helped me put things into context. It may have given me a view of what recovery could look like and the ways in which supportive friendships or groups could look.

All in all, I loved this book, and I’m so glad Sara Zarr wrote it.

Kyra Just for Today on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Kyra’s mom is an alcoholic in recovery. Her best friend’s dad is also an alcoholic and is still drinking.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Kyra’s grandparents are very religious and pressure her and her mom to come to their church with them. Kyra’s mom believes in the importance of a higher power, but she thinks of the ocean as her higher power because it’s so vast and deep.

Violent Content
A parent pushes a child away when the kid jokingly tries to grab her mom’s journal. A girl injures herself cooking and has to call for help.

Drug Content
References to adults drinking excessively. (The drinking happens off-scene.)

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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