TITLE: Story of a Girl
AUTHOR: Sara Zarr
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: Deanna must live with the consequences after her dad finds her having sex with Tommy in the backseat of his car when she was 13 years old.
I remember when my love of books was revived in middle school I would scour the internet for books that looked interesting to me. I used to spend hours on the Borders website (when they still existed) just looking for books. One of the books that always came up was Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr and it would always catch my eye. 13 year old me thought the cover and title was so cool (in that emo type of phase), and the subject matter was definitely risqué. So my 13 year old brain mentally put this book on the TBR shelf (before I knew what TBR meant), however I never got around to reading it until today. Seven years later.
To be honest, I’m glad I read it now. Thirteen year old me wouldn’t be able to wrap her head around other 13 year olds having sex with older guys. Where I come from that simply didn’t happen, or at least I never heard about it… Until I grew up and realized that the world isn’t perfect and stuff like having sex at a young age happens a lot more than you’d like it to. Thirteen year old me wouldn’t believe it, but twenty year old me does. Anyway, I can’t say I identify with Deanna because I’ve never done any of the things she did when she was 13.
Now let’s talk about the actual book. What I liked, what I didn’t, and what I learned.
The best way I can describe this novel is that it’s a cross between If I Stay (Gayle Forman), Forever… (Judy Blume) and Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone (Kat Rosenfield). It reminds me of If I Stay because the voice feels very monotone to me. In the sense that it’s very generic and there isn’t much of a personality in her thought process. A lot of what Deanna goes through is initially external from the way others treat her for her mistakes, but there’s no real inner struggles. It also reminds me of Forever because of the repercussions of sex. Although neither story feels preachy, they do show what happens after teens have sex and realize you can’t rewind and change things. And it reminds me of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone because of the small town feel that’s present throughout the novel. Much like Becca from AAIDAG, Deanna also feels stuck in Pacifica and dreams of someday moving out.
As for the characters there was no one I really loved. Everyone was pretty neutral, almost everyone. I did not like Deanna’s dad. He was awful. Instead of supporting his daughter and defending her from all the rumors, he did little to comfort her. It’s been three years and he still can’t get over it. Her brother, Darren, was more supportive than he was! Even Michael, her boss, was more supportive than her dad! I think he’s not only disappointed at his children for their mistakes, but for his own mistakes or bad parenting. But, it does not excuse his behavior. Meanwhile, her mom does nothing. It’s the type of family that makes me grateful for the one I have.
I don’t know how to rate this story because I neither liked it nor hated it. It was okay. The characters felt a little bland to me, but the lesson about confronting those who hurt you and then forgiving them is very powerful. It’s not what I was expecting.