Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 10, 2007
There are those who see beauty in flashy, meretricious and glittery things, objects that easily catch the eye and captivate those who admire it. No matter if the outside is the same within; it's the outside beauty - from a cover model to a gorgeous cover you may spot in the bookstore - that enchants us.
Story of a Girl is not one of those books. I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? I’m positive the majority of readers wouldn’t perceive this novel as a thing of beauty- but I did. While the outside appearance is ordinary and simple, it’s the content within that I found to be breathtakingly lovely and emotional.
This book is about Deanna Lambert, the protagonist of the story. Deanna is that girl, you know, that girl? The slut who slept with her older brother's best friend when she was thirteen. A girl who later had to deal with the repercussions of her past mistake. Deanna is a girl who can easily be dismissed as a skank, a clingy freak with no life, as most presume in her backwards, blue collar town. But what if there’s something more to the five thousand variations of this same story? What if this piece of gossip that’s circled around her school for years and has been so belittled so that people laugh off such a horrible experience as if it were a joke; what if there is more to it than people bother to care?
And there is so, so much more to this story than people would realize at first. Albeit, it isn’t clear where the author stands regarding this subject matter, but I’ve realized earlier on that this is simply Sara Zarr’s way and I’ve accepted that. However, I do marvel her open-mindedness and the compassion she shows towards her characters. Deanna Lambert is not a likable heroine. In fact, she makes some regrettable mistakes and choices, and has quite a few flaws. Yet she was only thirteen years old and no thirteen year old truly has the mental maturity to make adult decisions, and I’m sure most don’t have the foresight to speculate on how their decisions will affect their future. Not to mention, Deanna is a damaged, suffering character with a dreadful father who won’t forgive and understand her, nor listen to his daughter’s side of the story. Instead, he makes quick judgments and refuses to acknowledge her as being someone other than a disappointment. Her mother is no help either; in denial about her daughter’s suffering and husband’s flaws. But it’s clear that the author doesn’t depict them as villains or underdeveloped caricatures, alternatively, she depicts them as intensely imperfect and complicated characters.
I’ve always admired Sara Zarr’s uncluttered, poignant prose, but in Story of a Girl, even more so. I loved how she was able to convey this story in its rawest, barest form. She doesn’t lather her writing with sappy, overly- sentimental crap too often seen in this genre- rather, Story of a Girl affected a deep section of my heart that is rarely acknowledged by other authors. I cried so much while reading that my chest hurt and I collapsed in a heap on my bed and refused to budge for an hour. Sara Zarr has guts for tackling this topic and she has the intelligence, insight, empathy, and writing capabilities to deliver a realistic, heart rendering story that resonated with me.
This is a slim novel- merely 192 pages in length. And in those 192 pages, Sara Zarr wrote one of the most exceptionally well-realized, profoundly affecting, thoughtful and exquisite novels I have read, ever. Don’t miss out on this, dear readers. This one is a keeper.
Thank you so much, Leanne, for sharing your wonderful review of this powerful book! I've added it to my TBR - I certainly don't want to miss this one!
Click on Leanne's blog badge above or her link to be taken to her blog - you won't be sorry!