Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guest Review from The Reclusive Reader: Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

I am so excited to have the lovely Leanne from The Reclusive Reader join me on the blog today!  I know you will all love her as much as I do.  Her reviews are beautiful, expressive, and honest, and her writing is so eloquent and insightful. I love curling up with her gorgeous blog! So, without further ado, here is a bit about Leanne, followed by her fabulous review of Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr:


The Reclusive Reader
About Leanne:

Books will always be Leanne’s life-long love, and she admits to developing quite a few fictional crushes over the years. She loves to travel with a passion, and has been everywhere from the Alaskan Glaciers to ancient castles in Italy, and from all four quarters in Jerusalem to experiencing NYC at midnight. She possessively carries a neon pink journal with her where she writes down quotes and thoughts that strike her at any particular moment. Her hobbies include reading books and writing on her spare time, karate, fitness, painting, and studying at law school. Leanne also has a fixation with tea aromas, fresh baked goods and wandering aimlessly at night snapping photos.


Leanne's Review:

Title:  Story of a Girl
Author:  Sara Zarr
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  January 10, 2007
Leanne's Rating:


Goodreads Premise:

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.

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. Im sure youve heard of the phrase: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Im positive the majority of readers wouldnt perceive this novel as a thing of beauty- but I did. While the outside appearance is ordinary and simple, its 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 Ive realized earlier on that this is simply Sara Zarrs way and Ive 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 Im sure most dont 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 wont forgive and understand her, nor listen to his daughters 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 daughters suffering and husbands flaws. But its clear that the author doesn
t depict them as villains or underdeveloped caricatures, alternatively, she depicts them as intensely imperfect and complicated characters. 

ve always admired Sara Zarrs 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!


  1. I have never read anything by this author- but this book sounds very intriguing. I like that The Story of a Girl has a different take on this topic. Great review! I want to check it out. Thanks for sharing.:)

  2. Hmm.. this sounds like a tough read, emotionally. I actually really want to read it. Thanks for the review! :)

  3. Lovely review Leanne! I visit her blog often. This sounds like a very interesting read and I am certain it will make me think in a new direction. Thanks for sharing girls!

  4. Oh wow. I've noticed this book in passing (b/c every time I see the title, I start singing the song w/the same title!), but never paid much attention. Story of a Girl sounds like a must-read story. I've known girls like Deanna. Truthfully, any 13yo could end up in the same position. Thanks for such a great review. I'm off to Amazon now!

  5. Anonymous9/14/2012

    Thanks for the extraordinary opportunity to post on your beautiful blog, Michele!

    And Andrea- this book defintely is a must-read! I can't express it enough. :)

  6. I haven't heard of this book before. What a beautiful review. I will have to check this out.

  7. Great review! and very interesting topic!


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