by Sara Zarr
I bought this one because it was only $10 and it was kind of an impulse buy because I have access to it via libraries.. Damn those book stores! Just kiddin’ ;)
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.
My Expectations: I really disliked Zarr's other novel Sweethearts, so I was worried this one would let me down as well. But, I remembered it being on one of those "Top 10 or something" lists which sparked my interest.
Delivery: YES. It totally surprised me with how great it is, I’m totally digging the voice and the story, the premise, and the intense character development!
Put-down-ability: Read a chapter one night, finished it the next morning. 3/10
Story of a Girl is… contemporary fiction at its best. My experience with Sweethearts caused me to approach this novel with hesitation and scepticism. National Book Award Finalists have let me down before… but it met me full on with a great dose of writing, voice, and realism that honestly blew me away.
Deanna Lambert is estranged somewhat from her parents after a traumatic event, she has emotional issues, an unfair reputation, she’s insecure and scared, and well, she is a teenager. Similar to Twenty Boy Summer, this novel worked because of the honesty behind the story.
I always complain about how sub-plots become messy and bring down novels, but I can seriously say that this one does neither. Zarr manipulated this potential minefield with precision and finesse, Deanna’s struggles are portrayed realistically with a sense of purpose. I’m extremely glad that it never got preachy, it only felt like a girl telling me a story of mistakes, love, friendship and family.
All the characters were developed and three-dimensional Darren, her parents, Stacey, Lee, Jason, Tommy, and even Michael each had their own connection to the main character; all of them served a purpose, whether it was to help her emotional journey, or to add to the story in their own ways. My only complaint was that there were times where Darren/Stacey/April overshadowed the main character.
The most admirable aspect of the whole novel would undoubtedly be Deanna’s personal growth. She is reminiscent of Courtney Summers’ protagonists minus the edginess because every word out of her mouth felt authentic and raw. Her mistakes follow her but she learns to love, forgive, change and hope with support from the people she would have never expected. Story of a Girl is a story of a girl.
Parting Thoughts: Wow, I loved this novel! Another contemp you can’t miss.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
8.9/10 – because it was wonderful. The protagonist is real and flawed with a chip on her shoulder, what more can I ask for? Sub-plots and supporting characters were handled extremely well, and the voice rings true. Deanna’s engaging story of her summer is one that stands out amongst the crowd. Zarr has written a novel (to be turned into a movie!) that resonates truth and integrity that will stay with readers long after the last page. A