Saturday, April 12, 2008

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

** Edited from original review because I felt it wasn't as polished as it could be. **
Book Description

When Deanna's father catches her having sex in a car when she is 13, her life is drastically changed. Two years later, he still can't look her in the eye, and though Tommy is the only boy she's been with, she is branded the school slut. Her entire family watches her as though she is likely to sleep with anyone she sees, and Tommy still smirks at and torments her when she sees him. Her two best friends have recently begun dating, and Deanna feels like an intruder. She tries to maintain a close relationship with her older brother, but Darren and his girlfriend are struggling as teenage parents. Deanna learns to protect herself by becoming outwardly tough, but feels her isolation acutely. Her only outlet is her journal in which she writes the story of an anonymous girl who has the same experiences and feelings that she does.

(Taken from School Library Journal because I felt their summary made a stronger point than the publisher's.)

Grade: A- - Reflexive

Memorable Quotes:
"We all something we wish we could change, right?"

(Only one I'm posting because I feel it's central to the plot of the story. It's repeated several times throughout, thus no page number.)

The Review Zone!
Here's a book perfect for anyone who's done something they regret (and this is everyone).

A little question before I get started: What image of Deanna did you draw when you first read the book description? I pictured her as a gentle girl, mousy even, struggling to keep her act together. I mean, being with Tommy all those years ago was a humbling mistake, right?

No, not really. It was a hardening mistake. Deanna's degree of isolation, her confusion, the envy she feels for other people who don't have to deal with the past she's got--it all adds up to the rock-hard cold front she puts up. It's the only way she has of surviving the alienation and ostracism she still faces, three years after the fact. But no one is to be fooled--she's got a heartbreaking inside.

When the book opens, it's the summer before junior year and Deanna's looking for a job. She drops off applications at a few locations before coming to the conclusion that her chances of being hired at any of those places is near zero, on account of her reputation. So, she takes a rather undesirable job at a dingy pizza joint. This becomes monumental to the story because not only does the owner become one of the few people who accepts Deanna, but also because Tommy also works there. It's hell for Deanna at first--how could it not be?--but she bravely powers through it. The summer becomes one of change, where Deanna finally faces and tests everything in her life: her friendships, her relationship with her father, and her entire predicament. She learns valuable lessons, the most important of which is that she cannot let people keep defining her by one mistake.

This book is beautiful, with strong characters, tight writing, fast pacing, and a nice message. I'd recommend it to anyone--it's about time people saw the other side, the inside, of someone tormented by one-sided rumors. Dazzling debut. I'll be sure to read Sweethearts by Sara Zarr as well.


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I like the style of your review! I'm so glad you're going to review my book!
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have been abused
Chapter One is online!

Steph said...

Hey Beth! Thanks so much :D I'm really glad I'll be reviewing your book too--it sounds great :)

Nurin said...

Great review ;)
I can't wait to read sweethearts as well

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