Monday, May 02, 2011

Review: Story of a Girl

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

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, The Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

First sentence: I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber, in the back of Tommy's Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montara at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I loved Sara Zarr's writing in Once Was Lost (review), and was not disappointed by Story of a Girl. Her writing is great and vivid - I could imagine myself there with Deanna perfectly.

The characters are what I liked best about this novel. Even though Deanna's not really a character I have all that much in common with and would have thought is hard to understand, with the "school slut"- thing and all, she was easy to relate to from the first page on. I understood all of her feelings, and while I wanted to shake her at times for the stupid things she does (especially how she treats her friend, Lee), I always understood why she did those things and could therefore still relate to her.

The supporting characters are great as well. All of them are complex and fully-developed, as well as their relationships. The side-plots added a lot to the story, like Deanne's dysfunctional family. Her dad, who caught Deanna with Tommy and now gives Deanne the feeling he resents her, and his relationship with Deanne showed a lot about Deanne as a character. I enjoyed Darren and Stacy's storyline as well. Darren, Deanne's older brother, got Stacy pregnant, and now they're living with Deanne and her parents. I enjoyed reading how their fighting and forgiving each other affected Deanne's own decisions. The whole storyline with Jacob and Lee made me feel for Deanne, too. Deanne is jealous of her long-time best-friend, Jacob, and newer friend Lee being together as she doesn't know what it's like to really care for someone that way, and that helped me understand Deanne's point of view.

I didn't quite get Deanne's poetry-like writing. I guess it was supposed to help the reader understand her character, but for the most part, it was just strange and melodramatic to me, and I didn't feel it added much to the plot.

I was a little disappointed by the ending. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I would have liked to have a sort of showdown-y scene towards the end that would have emphasized the message, but the novel just sort of...ends. I would have liked to see a bit more character growth for Deanne, as while lots of little things changed about her throughout the story, I didn't see any real development in her view of her reputation at school. I would have preferred an ending that shows more character growth and emphasizes the message more.

Despite these little problems I had with the novel, Story of a Girl is still a great read, honest and realistic, with great writing and characters. I recommend it, even though I liked Once Was Lost a little better.


  1. I need to read some of her other stuff. Thanks for the review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  2. I LOVE Sara Zarr. Her characters not to mention everything else just always seem so real. If you haven't read Sweethearts by her I really recommend it. It's fantastic. :)

  3. I've had this on my TBR for awhile now. Glad to know that it's good. Going to try to move it up.

  4. I have to read this now to make sure Deanna is gonna be okay!

  5. I haven't read any works of Sara Zarr but I'm intrigue with this one. Being a finalist to NBA is something. I would like to try this one.


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