Story of a Girl was Sara Zarr’s debut novel and after reading, and loving, Sweethearts and How To Save A Life I was keen to read this book but couldn’t find it anywhere. So when I finally found a copy in a bookstore, I knew I had to have it straight away.
Story of a Girl is about Deanna Lambert. When she was thirteen her father caught her in the back of a Buick with her seventeen year old brother’s friend, Tommy Webber. Ever since then she has been labelled a slut in her small town and her father can barely look at her. Deanna’s brother also feels like a let-down to his parents, having got a girl pregnant straight out of school. The subsequent fallout of Darren and Stacy’s relationship is well told. In addition to this, Deanna has feelings for her friend Jason, who is dating her other best friend.
Story of a Girl takes place over one summer. Deanna is trying to find a job, but due to the town’s prejudice the only place that will hire her is a run down pizza place. The place where Tommy Webber works.
Elements of Story of a Girl were very disturbing for me. The fact she was labelled a slut when she was only thirteen and Tommy was so much older than her made me a little uncomfortable. I would have thought that Tommy would have been the one who was chastised, seeing as he was so much older and it was technically illegal. However, the justification in the book is that Tommy gets his side of the story out first, however, I don’t know if I would personally have held much weight to it if I was in that town.
That said, Story of a Girl is a poignant tale of family and redemption and one well worth reading. It isn’t an easy book to read and Zarr skilfully brings Deanna to life from the page in all her imperfection and complexity. Story of a Girl raises difficult questions about sexuality, preconceptions, gossip and family. It doesn’t provide clear cut answers either, which I personally liked as I enjoy having the room to really examined and question themes raised in books.
Zarr’s prose is beautiful, as in all her novels, and she perfectly gets inside the voice of a teenager. I highly recommend this book for those interested in contemporary YA and books that delve into those uncomfortable issues we are often too afraid to address.