Review: Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr

The Blurb: "When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend - Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past.
With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption."

My Favorite Quote: "They never tell you this part in sex ed, how to talk about what you did and why you did it and what you thought about it, before, during, and after."

The Review: In a nutshell, this is what all realistic YA fiction that deals with sexuality is about, and why YA readers read books like Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr. They want answers to these excruciatingly important questions. The social ramifications of developing one's sexuality is constantly present in the average YA reader's life. The story is about a quiet girl who made what she (and her father) considers a mistake when she was in 8th grade, and it is haunting her still, almost three years later, because no one knows how to talk about it.

Zarr portrays the complex family with ease, giving each of her characters a position to operate from, and for the most part allows them to change though the book. Zarr was able to convey feelings of despiration that many teens (and adults) can empathize with, and when the lead character Deanna was falling into her old trap again I was genuinely panicked. I didn't want Zarr to let me down, and she held up her end of the bargain.

I did find the book "tamer" than I expected, and thought the family drama was a bit high for my taste (only because it was everpresent), and the additional -Story of a Girl- sections seemed like a trope that was tacked on and a bit unnecessary.

Something Extra: Sara Zarr also appears to be one of the few authors that regularly updates her blog. At her website there is a treasure trove of material about her and her writing. And there is a great interview with Zarr by Ellen Papazian at Bitch Magazine.

The Bottom Line: With the over-all literary and thematic elements of family, sexuality, responsibility, religion, and coming of age, it was easy to see why Story of a Girl was a National Book Award finalist for Young People's Literature. An excellent read, from an excellent author.
Grade: A-


Jo said...

This book sounds awesome! It's one I'll definitely try to check out! Great review! :)