Book review: Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Lia Horyczun ’16
EE Staff Photographer

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.

Sara Zarr’s first published book, Story of a Girl, was released in 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She is known for previous titles such as Sweethearts, Once Was Lost, and The Lucy Variations. This realistic fiction novel is geared towards young adult readers. It deals with coming of age and how to deal with past mistakes.

Story of a Girl has won the 2007 National Book Award Finalist, American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.

According to John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, “Sara Zarr’s first novel tells an engrossing story with exquisitely drawn characters. Story of a Girl is the rarest mix: It’s both impossible to put down and the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.”

The main character of this story, Deanna Lambert, is struggling to move on from the huge mistake of “doing the deed” and being caught in a car by her father. In a small town, the story spreads like wildfire. At just thirteen years old, Deanna is labeled as the school’s tramp. Fast forward three years, and the story follows Deanna at sixteen trying to escape the town because she is still defined by one mistake. She manages to get a job at a low life restaurant. Her co-worker turns out to be none other than the boy with whom she did the deed. Not to mention, Deanna cannot find peace that her best friends Lee and Jason are dating.

Also, home life is a struggle. Her father is still trying to recover from the experience and her mother refuses to acknowledge what happened in the past. Her brother, Darren, is out of high school but has been roped into becoming a father when his girlfriend April gets pregnant. The couple struggles to make ends meet, and Deanna has plans to run away with them. In one summer, Deanna learns how to cope with the mistake and move forward.

As author of Jingle Dancer and Indian Shoes Cynthia Leitich Smith remarks, ” [It’s] a heartfelt, realistic novel about being defined by one moment, one choice, and then having to reinvent who you are….An evocative, thoughtful read from a debut author to watch.”

Story of a Girl is not meant for the faint hearted because it goes into uncomfortable issues that other authors may be afraid to address. This book may turn off some readers because it’s emotional and startlingly real.

“Forgetting isn’t enough. You can paddle away from the memories and think they are gone. But they will keep floating back, again and again and again. They circle you, like sharks. Until, unless, something, someone? Can do more than just cover the wound,” Deanna writes in her diary.

This book has been optioned for film but a release date is not available.


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