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Story of a Girl

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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.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published January 10, 2007

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About the author

Sara Zarr

22 books1,273 followers
Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of ten books, most recently Goodbye from Nowhere, and Courageous Creativity: Advice and Encouragement for the Creative Life--a book on creativity for the young and young-at-heart. She’s a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner, and is the host and producer of the This Creative Life podcast. Her first book, Story of a Girl, was made into a 2017 television movie directed by Kyra Sedgwick. She lives with her husband and cat, Mr. Donut, in CA and UT.

How I use goodreads: To log books I read in a year, books I want to read, and books by authors who were on my podcast, This Creative Life. (Those also turn up on my read shelf though I haven't necessarily read them!) I don't use the rating system but I will jot some notes about the books if I remember!

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5 stars
4,096 (23%)
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3 stars
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467 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,848 reviews
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.6k followers
June 12, 2012
Update 6/12/12 I think it's even better upon reread. Adding a star

Some books are written about lovable characters who you admire and cheer for. Some are written about flawed characters like Deanna, and the author's purpose in such cases is to make us, readers, not to love, but maybe understand them.

I realize why Story of a Girl received such mixed reviews. Not every reader cares to get to know someone like Deanna. She is a loser, she is a bad friend, she is a slut, right? It is so much easier to call her all these names and be done with her. Too bad, girls like her are everywhere you look. Open any YA book and here she is - an incorrigible slut and a rotten person.

The thing is, I have a problem with the notion that a 13-year girl caught having sex in a car with a 17-year old guy (or any girl for that matter) is a slut. I am sorry, but I am not willing to put this ugly label on a child who has no emotional or intellectual capacity to consent to sex. If nothing else, Sara Zarr highlights the psychological immaturity of girls like Deanna and that sex is not something that they want to do, but a means to satisfy their need for intimacy, companionship and attention that they don't get from their families and friends. Zarr addresses these issues with a lot of understanding, care and compassion.

I can't be mad at or dismissive of Deannas of this world. Instead, I feel a lot of sadness towards them. Not only their reputations are ruined, but their years of childhood are lost and their innocence is tarnished forever. I hope they can get over their skewed views of what intimacy is, forgive themselves and move on to be better, happier people. I want them to succeed.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
January 30, 2012
4.5 stars

I know full well how dramatic this is going to sound, but this book broke my heart. Not violently, or loudly, with a single devastating blow; but quietly and slowly, taking it apart piece by painful piece. Whatever emotional sandbagging I’d done in the intervening years proved a poor defence, and in just 192 pages Sara Zarr’s excruciating story had brought me right back to being sixteen again, vulnerable and raw with self-loathing.

What strikes me most Sara Zarr’s writing, and Story of a Girl in particular, is its empathy. In telling the story of Deanna Lambert, struggling against the perceptions and repercussions of her past actions, Zarr cuts right to the emotional truth of the situation. Doing away with superfluous drama and paring the story back to the bare bones, Zarr writes from Deanna’s perspective with palpable understanding. I feel like she gets it. And that kind of validation is a powerful and moving thing, particularly for readers who find echoes of their own personal experiences in Deanna’s.

Knowing that this was Zarr’s debut novel, I think I had unconsciously tempered my expectations, particularly after recently reading and loving How To Save a Life. It was somewhat humbling, therefore, to realise that this slighter, quieter book, was equally powerful. There are no wasted words. Every scene is layered with significance, down to the small details that (albeit sparsely) flesh them out. The gestures, dialogue, setting, the spare descriptions are imbued with relevance to the overarching themes and characterisation. In few words Zarr paints a sharp and insightful picture of one teenage girl’s experience with shame, judgement and forgiveness.

Perception, and its accompanying shades and variances, are subtly examined in Story of Girl. From the wide-spread labelling of Deanna as the “school slut” and the ways in which stories are manipulated, through to Deanna’s perception of herself as unloved by her father, the various lenses Deanna is shown through are tackled without any heavy-handed declarations from Zarr on the rights or wrongs thereof. Nor are the characters cast in clear-cut roles as antagonists and protagonists. It simply is what it is. And I think readers would hard-pressed to say they didn’t know someone, if not themselves, who had been subjected to the perpetuation of a stereotype or label, or on the flipside even participated in doing so. Zarr’s story is a deft and effective deconstruction of the some of the myths surrounding the “slut” tag, and for all its economy with words it packs some intense and thought-provoking subtext.

I can understand why some have found Story of a Girl’s ending to feel less than adequately positive. However, coming from a somewhat non-“huggy” family myself, it felt honest to me. Sometimes, it’s as likely for someone to say: “I was wrong and I’m sorry” as it is for them to light themselves on fire. Sometimes shifts in perception, or forgiveness, are not accompanied by declarations or grand gestures. Often they come on gradually, unheralded. And sometimes, when one has forgiven themselves, the same acknowledgement from others is no longer all that necessary anyway. Redemption can be a self-fulfilling thing. To this end, I think Zarr’s conclusion to this book struck the right chord, with small glimpses of hope and change, while remaining in keeping with the gentle character growth throughout.

It would be dishonest of me to say that reading Story of A Girl didn’t leave me feeling scraped and bruised and bring me precariously close to an ugly cry in public. For a short book it certainly hit a nerve – it’s not often that I read something that takes me from anger and indignation to intense sadness and beyond. But in the end I didn’t feel like I’d lost anything for reading it. On the contrary, I felt like I’d been given something important and special. Certainly another viewpoint from which to consider things, but more than that, a sense that experiences like Deanna’s have not gone unwitnessed.

That they are understood.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
March 30, 2012

3.5 stars.

I've taken quite a few lessons from this book and a couple of fellow GR members; basically, I didn't know how strong puritanical attitudes still are in the United States... or, at least, I didn't realise they are quite so widespread even today. I associated them with small communities that share a very conservative/religious attitude and never imagined these attitudes towards sex to be typical of just your average American town. Well, we learn something new everyday...

That aside, I found this book intense and deeply emotional, but by 'deeply emotional' I here mostly mean sad. This is not a happy book, very little in it can be called cheerful and I think I would have liked to see the tiniest bit of happiness, or it risks sounding like another Ellen Hopkins FML rant. And, well, Deanna's like is pretty shit. What does this girl have to be happy about? At first I was thinking "at least she has a decent friend that she can turn to" but it turns out that Deanna's in love with her best friend's boyfriend!

She is not having a good time...

So, where does it all start? Deanna gets caught having sex when she is only thirteen with a boy who is four years older than her. Worse, she gets caught by her dad. Now she is known as the "school slut", she's ridiculed, abandoned by friends and treated like a leper because she had underage sex.

Her dad is the most irritating, awful part of the book. It really bugs me that the book summary is all about Deanna's desperate search for redemption when, to me, it seems her dad is the one in need of begging to be forgiven. What's with the "I know I let him down" phrases that Deanna keeps on with? Un-effin-believable. She was a thirteen year old girl - a child - and instead of asking why his daughter must go down on an older boy at thirteen in order to feel special and wanted, he attempts to make her feel more horrible and disgusting. He's an asshole.

No wonder Deanna feels like she has no one to turn to. She can't get away from her past and her only hope for escape is with her brother and his new family. But does she really have a place with them or is she simply an inconvenience? I felt for Deanna throughout the novel, even though I found it hard to accept some of the beliefs and values floating about in this book. The author paints a very dark but effective picture of a girl's mind.

I wish I knew better where the author stood on some of the issues I discussed. I understand that she wanted the reader to know why Deanna felt the need to sleep with Tommy... I also see that Sara Zarr never portrays Deanna's father in a positive way (thank god) but what are her beliefs about sex? Abstinence? "Sluts" and slut-shaming? I'd like to know to settle my own curiosity.

I also wish the ending could have concluded more positively. Deanna sorts a few things out in her life but much still remains the same... still, I suppose the author left it in a way that leaves room for hope, at least.

Profile Image for Macarena Yannelli.
Author 1 book957 followers
February 19, 2017
Hay algo muy especifico y grave de este libro que fue un gran nononono para mi, creo que es algo muy personal y no creo que la autora lo haya hecho a propósito, pero es algo que hoy en día no se debe dejar pasar y es uno de los grandes problemas de nuestra "rape-culture". Esto no es una buena manera de mostrar consentimiento en una relación sexual, esto no es un buen ejemplo.
Reseña completa (y rant) en Gracias a los Libros
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
March 20, 2020
3.5 stars

A genuine coming off age story allowing readers to look into the hows and whys of a girl exposed to sex at a very young age, how people easily judge her, cast her off and dub her a slut, avoid her, and pretend like none of them did the same thing when the only difference is they weren’t caught by their dads at it.

Like the other novel by Ms. Zarr I’ve read, The Story of a Girl is an honest story that reveals the heart of the 16 year old Deanna. She sadly narrates how choosing to do the act mostly has to do with her wanting to belong, her need to feel like she is loved and chosen and that it’s only a small price to pay to do what the guy wants in exchange of that feeling. The sadness resonates throughout the novel as Deanna narrates the aftermath of that ill-fated day when her dad caught her with Tommy at the back of the van. Everything hasn’t been the same both at school and even at home and definitely for the worse.

But despite everything she’s gone through, I really admire Deanna’s strength, her ability to see through other people, her selflessness, and most of all her capacity to forgive and forget and eventually try to move on.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
August 17, 2012
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Sara Zarr is a name that crosses every well-read reader’s lips at some point – every well-read reader, that is, except me. Thus, when I saw Zarr’s Story of a Girl sitting quite alone on the shelves of my library, I just knew I had to pick it up; I certainly haven’t regretted my choice. While this was one of the quickest novels I’ve read lately, it packed a whole lot of punch, heart-wrenching scenes, and true character connection in such a short amount of pages. It was provocative, compelling, and is a story I really had to mull over for hours afterwards since it simply would not get out of my head. It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfect in the lessons it conveyed and that, I believe, is what is truly important.

When Deanna is caught nearly having sex in the back of a truck with her older brother’s best friend, Tom, her entire life is ruined. Not only does Tom spread nasty rumors about her, destroying her social image, but it was her father who caught her, effectively building up a seemingly unbreakable wall between their relationship. Even now, three years later, Deanna is still subjected to her father’s cold stare and hard ignorance as well as the whiplash of an entire town. Yet, this summer, Deanna has a plan – work, make money, and move out with her older brother, his girlfriend, and their unplanned child who are all currently living in the basement of their current home. As Deanna will come to realize though, her life isn’t something she can plan and going forward isn’t an option until you’ve dealt with the past.*

From the beginning itself, Deanna was a compelling heroine. While it may seem as if the reader should instantly dislike her for her actions, we are unable to as we see this unfortunate situation from Deanna’s perspective; from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old girl who wasn’t enjoying herself in the backseat of a car with an older guy, who didn’t want to go that far with someone older than her, who wasn’t ready for that type of a relationship, but who simply wanted attention and care from someone, especially if her own family would not give it to her. Thus, within the first few pages itself, we feel for Deanna and pity her situation. Yet, what struck me the most about her tale was that instead of Deanna, her life could have been any of ours. It is basic human nature to want to be loved and cared for and if any one of us were dealing with the same circumstances in life as Deanna, there is a high possibility we may have committed the same mistakes too. No one, though, deserves to be blamed for those actions even three years later, which is where the true injustice of this tale comes through.

Now, at sixteen, Deanna still isn’t a perfect character. If anything, she’s in love with her best friend who is now the boyfriend of her one-and-only girl best friend. Furthermore, she still commits mistakes, makes a fool of herself, and is thrown into situations she has no control over. Yet, while this is primarily Deanna’s tale, it is also the tale of her brother who is attempting to be a good father and husband at such a young age. I found the family dynamics in Deanna’s life to be extremely lacking, but her relationship with her brother was one I truly cherished. I liked how much a part of each others’ lives they tried to be and if it wasn’t her brother, it was her brother’s girlfriend who became Deanna’s friend. So, while Deanna did still commit many blunders in this story, she slowly begins to close up the wounds that started three years ago, whether it was forgiving Tom or moving on from her past or accepting her feelings for her best friend or facing the issues her family faced to survive together.

But, while I found this novel to be very compelling and a story that grabbed me into its pages and made me feel for its characters, I was just a tad bit disappointed that Deanna didn’t experience more growth. In fact, the ending of this story was very open and while it healed some rifts, I would have liked to the see the culmination and consequences of some of the others. What I liked though, was that Zarr made this a very realistic story. Deanna’s father was a despicable man who I hated for his treatment of Deanna, but I understood him too because of his ego and pride. So, while I wanted their relationship to heal overnight, I’m glad it didn’t – I’m glad that her father is still mostly a jerk, but a slightly improving one. Many aspects of Deanna’s life are left like this and we don’t really know what will become of her or her friends or anyone in her life, but we do know that she is strong enough to have faced all this and come out alive, which means she can face much more in the future. At its core, Story of a Girl is really a story of courage, bravery, and hope and I adored it. It was extremely well written and as far as debuts go, this was impeccable. I will definitely be reading more of Sara Zarr in the future – it’s hard not to be drawn to an author who writes this well.

*In fact, there’s a lot more than goes on in this story – secondary characters I loved, conversations I adored, other situations I didn’t bring up, etc. Yet, I feel as if explaining them would take away from their charm, so I hope you will excuse my vague plot summary and check this book out for yourself. It is an incredible gut-wrenching read that will win you over with its subtle form of characterization and I highly recommend it.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,357 reviews832 followers
March 13, 2017
Bullet Review:

I'm VERY impressed. Finally, a YA novel I don't want to choke myself after reading.

Some may find the conclusion boring or unimpressive or pedestrian, but I thought it genius and inspired and indicative of real life. Sometimes things get wrapped up (or at least set back on a good track) by a few simple words rather than some cataclysmic battle.

Highly recommended to mature teens.

Don't slut-shame.

Full Review:

Deanna Lambert has kinda a sh!tty life. She got caught having sex with Tommy Webber when she was 13 and he was 17 by her father - now, three years later, her life is still marred by that event. All she wants is to pick up with her brother, Darren, his girlfriend, Stacy, and their baby, April, and leave.

I bought this book long ago, after having the opportunity to meet Sara Zarr. At the time, I was more interested in meeting Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, and Beth Revis, so I didn't stop to chat or have her sign a book. I'll admit, I felt guilty, so I went back and bought her signed debut copy of "Story of a Girl".

Lately, I've been really weeding through my books, and I just on a whim picked this up, ready to get it off the shelves. Well, the results were quite different from what I expected - Zarr is a highly talented writer with a superb story that I think many girls from many walks of life will admire.

The essence of the story is forgiveness and realizing that if you aren't happy with yourself, it doesn't matter where you run, you will still be unhappy. But just writing that out totally doesn't do justice to the story.

It's realizing that everyone has his or her own sh!t. That when you say mean things to another person, yes, I'm sorry your life is awful, but that other person still didn't deserve it. It's owning up to your mistakes, being the adult in a situation and saying, "I messed up. I was wrong. I'm sorry." It's about changing your life by facing your problems.

To get sappy, it's about changing the world by being the change.

Each character, from our protagonist, Deanna, to horrible Tommy, who while he didn't rape her in the "violent" usage of the word, did pressure her until she said yes, got to have a say, got to have nuance. This is a group of just normal people, living mediocre lives and just figuring out how to deal with it.

Which is probably why I LOVED the conclusion. I thought it was spot on. With the way Deanna's family was, I'd be surprised at a more cataclysmic conclusion - and while I'd love for Deanna's dad to just outright stop being a d!ck, the fact is, it's obvious by the end of the book that he's changing. (Plus, I couldn't help but see the obvious signs of depression.)

In short, this was a fantastic book that I would definitely recommend to teens. Zarr proved herself a competent writer - I've really been waning on my reading of young adult and Zarr proved that there are young adult writers who aren't writing sappy romances or generic dystopias and cancer books. I'm still timid about reading more of her works, just because I'm moving away from the young adult genre, but if you do like YA contemporary books, you should enjoy this.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Mild. I don't recall any or many f-bombs.
Tommy and Deanna's relationship is never described in graphic terms and mostly from a flashback POV.
A boy grabs Deanna, and she pushes him back. Security is called.
Profile Image for Limonessa.
300 reviews510 followers
July 13, 2011
Abandon all hope -Ye who enter here.

This is what I wanted to inscribe on a plate and stick on the front page of the book as I was reading the first half.
Have you read my profile description? Well, I state that I read only what relaxes me. This book is NOT relaxing. It's depressing. At least for the first part. So if you are all about flowers and puppies, happy thoughts and happily ever afters, I warn you that this book will not make you feel better.

Deanna is 16 lives in the blue-collar town of Pacifica, where her parents work some pretty low-paid jobs. She is well-known in town because, at age 13, she's been caught by her father in the backseat of a car having sex with Jimmy, her older brother's best friend. Even after 3 years, her life still seems to be defined by this pivotal moment, by this incredibly stupid mistake she's made and just has to live with the slut label.

Being realistic YA fiction, this book is not about action. It's all about characters. The first thing that bugged me is that it's really hard to find a likable character, starting with our MC, Deanna. Deanna is your typical teenager with "father" issues; unable to receive attention and love from the figure she looks up to the most, she throws herself in the arms of the first person that makes her feel somehow special, even though she is too young and this person is all wrong. This is not uncommon.

What irked me was her initial - not so initial because it lasted three years but initial for the book - inability to snap out of it. This event becomes a big deal because she lets it become one and lets it define her. I also thought the whole resonance of the matter in town was a bit exaggerated, that after three years people would still be mean to her about it and adult people would still talk. I come from a small town too and, over the years, there have been a few people who have made some embarrassing mistakes and they got public but I thought this was a bit blown out of proportion, especially by her father. 13 is definitely too young to have sex but, unfortunately, not very uncommon nowadays. It's a mistake but not the end of the world.Aside from Deanna, her whole family is dysfunctional, with the exception of Darren who, even though a father at only 19, seemed to be the only one with a grain of salt in his head.

But the sense of terrible social degradation that permeated the whole story is what struck me the most. The mess in the house, the house falling to pieces with Christmas lights still out and nobody even caring about it, the diner where she works, the descriptions of which made my stomach churn with disgust, her squalid encounters with Jimmy, all left me with a sense of despair and hopelessness I wasn't really willing or ready to get into. I know the problem is me doing the ostrich in this case but, when left with a choice, I'd rather not read about other people's unhappy situations in life.

Fortunately, throughout the second part of the book and to the end, Deanna slowly starts her path towards a partial redemption, finally trying to communicate with her family, confronting Jimmy and salvaging her friendship with Lee. Zarr doesn't leave you completely hopeless but tries to resolve issues in the interpersonal dynamics of the characters, introducing forgiveness, mainly.

This to say that while I was pretty much hating the first part of the book I have to admit that, end in end, this deserves a little more than 3 starts for me and that, in fact, I did like it. The story is very well written and very intense, the characters are well developed - though unlikable - and the ending is in line with the rest of the book, not overly optimistic and unreal Hollywood-movie-like but more subdued, with little hints that it can get better.

I cannot give it a higher rating because this book is probably not for me. Or maybe it is, because I almost read it in one sitting but it's just that I don't want to read about this. The feeling I had that the characters have limited free will and that are, in reality, victims of their social conditions just leaves me with a bitter taste in the back of my mouth I don't want to have.

Profile Image for Megan.
418 reviews386 followers
February 9, 2012
We all went to highschool with that girl. You know, the slutty one. Maybe she had sex with her boyfriend in the band room after school. Or with multiple guys in the alley behind the grocery store. Or gave head to a member of the soccer team during a party. Or maybe she didn't? But whether she did or not doesn't really matter. Because these sexual gossip stories and labels are how she will be defined by her peers.

The Story of a Girl is the story of Deanna Lambert, a girl who was discovered to be having sex with a 17 year old friend of her brother when she was only 13. Four years later, Deanna's self-esteem is worse than it was back then, she only has two friends, and is labeled the town slut. In addition she comes from a low income, incredibly dysfunctional family. Speaking of her family, Deanna's father was the one who initially discovered her in a sexual act with the older boy. This created a hot mess of tension between father and daughter which is still affecting their relationship.

As someone who grew up in a small Ohio town, I found this story as well as Deanna's slut-shamming to be very realistic. Kudos to all of you lucky enough to experience your adolescence in a large city. Or an enlightened part of the country. In the heart of the Midwest, those stories do stay with girls long after they should.

While there are a ton of realistic YA novels dealing with sexuality, self-esteem, friendship and family issues, very few of them feel nearly as realistic as Story of a Girl. Deanna struggles with conflicted feelings towards sex, jealously of her only female friend, maintaining a platonic relationship with her only male friend, and idolizing her older brother. Deanna also suffers a whole mess of issues revolving around her father, as well as her mother. What makes this book so unique is that Deanna is not the sort of YA protagonist to look up to. She doesn't always make the right decision or say the right thing. She is troubled, insecure and secretive. There is no big epiphany at the end or heartwarming moment. But in all of Deanna’s interactions, words and thoughts there is an honesty that is often missing from YA novels.

So why only three stars? As I mentioned, Deanna is a mess. Yet at the end, things appear to be looking up. Author Sara Zarr did not shy away from creating a fucked up situation, but when everything was said and done… everything turned out okay. Granted Zarr showed us the rationale for Deanna’s bad behavior. But no matter how justified crappy behavior is, there are usually consequences. I just don’t buy that relationships will go back to the way they were, or even become stronger after a person acts like a jerk. Unfortunately that is the only thing I find disappointing in Zarr’s novels. She has a talent for making unlikable characters sympathetic, but seems unwilling to let anything bad happen to them once they and their baggage have been introduced.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
July 11, 2012
what would have been a thirty minute coffee break this morning morphed into two hours of me ordering one round after another, all because i didn't want this to end. i might have gotten couple side glances too, with maybe imaginary word bubbles of 'what's bugging you and why the clenched jaw?' directed my way. 

and how could i not clench my jaws? how could i not breathe deep? really, how could i not when this story of this girl had both angry me and sad me riled up! the only time i wanted to make a fist-pump of joy was how she dealt with tommy... every other moment had me dreading what would happen next. so, right now, there's angry me, and then there's sad me. goodness, but this book has those two halves in me jostling at each other just to have their say first.

she's a pretty decent kid too, wise about some things but not so wise that she'd avoid the moments that had me screaming 'NOOO! you know better, right?' and 'don't do it, don't do it!' in my head. that she doesn't have it all us made plain, but that there were positives too can't be denied either. it's simply that those few positives didn't go all the way. take the brother and the mother who were present but mired in their own thing. her mother especially, who's presence was felt, but almost always fell short. 

and you know what? i could forgive them to an extent especially when darren made it clear that they were in the same boat then doling out some tough love with her needing to make her own way (out.) i was all set for this big yay... but was held back by the nagging question of 'what about her?' Which the girl eerily echoes moments later with her,

I, Deanna Lambert, belong to no one,
and no one belongs to me.
I don't know what to do.


but it's her father who had me blinking back... but blinking back why? from my anger for him or from my disappointment in him for her. her feelings for him, recalling what was, missing it but being resigned that they were the way they were had me glued:

"That's what I figured out that day... that as much as I'd let him down, he'd let me down, too, and he was the one who should know better. He was my dad. That's when I had to make myself stop loving him. I had to remember the way he used to be, because if I kept thinking about the old dad every time I looked at him, I would never stop hurting."


heavy stuff here... all because people make mistakes and with things that matter being left unsaid.


Profile Image for Stephanie.
301 reviews113 followers
January 8, 2019
Al principio no me pego muy bien este libro, sobre todo por lo molesta que era Denna y su intento de «pobre de mi». Pero luego, en cierto punto comienza a mejorar y a evolucionar. Estoy conforme con este libro, aunque pase por momentos de odiar a los personajes y su mentalidad tan cuadrada. Aunque es como hablan algunas personas: no es un libro para que ames, es un libro para entender por qué se sienten así y lo que los llevó a ser cómo son.
4 reviews
December 12, 2008
A Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

I read the book A Story of the Girl by Sara Zarr. This book is crazy. It’s about a girl name Deanna who is claimed to be the biggest skank at her school because her brothers “supposedly’’ Best friend took advantage of her, but as a 13 year old girl she never told Tommy to stop because she said “he made her feel good”. And it “made her feel like she mattered to him”. But that night when her dad found her and Tommy in his truck nothing was the same. Tommy went to school telling everybody what had happened but it was the wrong story.

I liked this story because I could relate to it. Not because I done what Deanna did, but because her school is like mines a bunch of DRAMA. Most high schools have lots of drama at their school. Throughout this story it seems like the drama just gets worse. And Deanna can’t do anything about it because she made the bad mistake.

3 years later after Deanna’s stupid mistake she still has the name of the biggest skank of her school. Even though most people hate her she does still have 2 really good friends. Lee and Jason, they are a couple and they are her best friends. The worse summer of her life was her freshman year, which she hasn’t forgot and neither has her dad. When her dad found his 13 year old with an 18 year old he flips out on her. (What parent wouldn’t). And he hasn’t spoke to her since that day when he snatches her out Tommy’s truck.

Deanna’s brother Darren has his own problems. He got his own problems. He got this girl named Stacy pregnant which is now lives in his parent’s basement with their baby and her. Deanna’s parents think that she is going to make the same mistake that Darren did when he was in high school. Deanna has always had the dream that she would get a job and her Darrin, Stacey, and the baby will move in their own apartment. Because Darrin and Deanna’s dad wants Darrin, Stacey, and the baby to move out and Deanna want to move too.

With Deanna’s ideal she went to get a job but guess who works there?? Tommy. She has the best boss ever who doesn’t care about anything. She feels like he is the only one that cares and understands her one day Stacey forgot to pick Deanna up from work so she gets away to work thinking that Stacey was there because her car was in the parking lot but she wasn’t. So she started to walk home and there comes Tommy telling her to get in the car and he will take her home. She knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. If you want to know the rest you must read the story!!!!!!!!!!!

Page Number: 224

Genre: Fiction

Profile Image for Courtney.
31 reviews
December 14, 2007
Some of the book reminded me of living in a small town where you can’t avoid people you dated years ago, have co-workers who are not your friends, think people were friends when they were drug buddies, where there aren’t many options for employment, and everyone is kinda hanging around after school (although in my situation it was college and not high school that brought this stagnation). There is honesty that combats rumors, there are shunnings that hurt years later and there are questions about female sexuality where women can be both victims and instigators in similar situations. Family relationships are complicated and often distant considering relatives share a living space. Everyone else seems to have given spoilers about how Deanna found herself in this situation, but the themes were defintely intriguing and a good change from a neatly plotted novel with a dynamic character change and concrete ending.
Profile Image for Emily.
187 reviews303 followers
April 26, 2012
3.5 stars

Confession #1: I have a little bit of an Author Crush on Sara Zarr. For me, Zarr's writing style is what I think of when I think 'quality contemporary YA'. It epitomises the kind of style I want in my own writing. (Well, somewhere between Zarr and Marchetta would be nice. And a Ferrari, too, please.) In YA circles she has, as they say, clout. And I just want to be her. Or at least follow her around and watch her write and hope some of her amazingness rubs off on me. Alas, all I can do is read her books and hope I learn something.

Confession #2: I didn't always feel this way. I used to see Story of a Girl on shelves and completely dismiss it. For some reason, I just didn't think this was the book for me. I didn't think any of Zarr's books were for me. Why? No idea. And honestly I wouldn't have even looked twice at How to Save a Life if it weren't for the gorgeous cover. The power of a pretty cover, hey?

Anyway, on to the review.

Zarr's debut novel packs a punch. The opening scene introduces us to Deanna Lambert and the moment that ended up defining three years of her life. The rest of the book is about Deanna finding forgiveness for her actions - from others and herself. But not before she royally messes things up, of course.

Immediately you get a sense of the powerful writing Zarr is capable of. Snippets from Deanna's journal add a wonderful element to the story and I love how some chapters had two parts (i.e. 7a and 7b). Here's a taste of the lovely prose:

"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."

My biggest gripe with this book is that it should've been longer. I was only just beginning to fall in love with the characters when BAM it was over. The issue with Lee/Jason/Deanna didn't get resolved. At all. While I don't mind being left to wonder at the end of a novel, this just felt unfinished and jarring. About 100 pages or more could've been spent further developing the characters and resolving all the issues that were introduced in the first three-quarters of the book. It ended up feeling like a snapshot of Deanna's life; beautiful and intriguing but not much substance.

Ultimately, Story of a Girl is a very good book and a very memorable one. But having read How To Save a Life first, I felt Zarr hadn't quite found her stride in this one. Glimpses of her greatness are there, though, and this is definitely a must-read for lovers of contemporary YA.

PS I highly recommend Zarr's This Creative Life podcasts. They're by far my fave writerly thing at the moment. Check them out here: wwww.sarazarr.com or search for them on iTunes.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
September 25, 2023
I sought this book out after seeing an Instagram reel from Kyra Sedgwick talking about how great it was. I think Kyra is not likely going to be my go-to for book recommendations in the future.

This book wasn't terrible. But it's not actually all that good either. I can understand and appreciate what Zarr was trying to do here, but I just don't think she did it.

This book's fatal flaw for me was that we were inside Deanna's head, and yet, I still don't really get or understand her at all. Everything was too vague. Even when she's supposedly figuring things out and coming to all of these insightful conclusions and whatnot... she's not taking us with her there. Nothing is resolved, it's just... over.

And so is my time thinking about this book. I did finish it, eventually, so... 2 stars.
Profile Image for Flannery.
311 reviews
October 19, 2012
Dear Sara Zarr,

How could you narrate the audiobooks of Story of a Girl, Once Was Lost, and Sweethearts and then NOT narrate How to Save a Life? Don't you have any respect for the "people" who get addicted to hearing you read your own books? I think you should consider the very real possibility that you are evil.


People is in quotation marks because I'm assuming from the level of my outrage that there must be other people out there. For now, though, it's just me. Story of a Girl is about a teenager whose family and social life were upturned when her father caught her having sex with her brother's best friend in a car. In typical Zarr fashion, the story is very contained, both temporally and in terms of side plots, but it is still contemplative. In one summer, Deanna does a lot of growing up, and the people around her aren't exempt from a bit of growth themselves. At times, it was painful to experience life in Deanna's home because I know what it is like to have something unsaid and undealt with hanging over a group of people until every interaction just feels awkwardly awful. I could feel how frustrating Deanna's life was and Zarr's unaffected tone of voice was perfect for Deanna's teenage skepticism.

This mini-review was part of a series of 7 mini-reviews of short YA books I wrote for a post over at our blog, The Readventurer.
Profile Image for Sandra.
94 reviews15 followers
June 24, 2012
Some books come into my life at a time when I truly get them, when they speak to me as if they're a dear friend reminding me of what truly matters in my life.

Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl is one of those books. It could have been titled Every Person's Story, as there are huge chunks of truth undeniably common to many.

Family, an elusive word. What does it mean to be a family? To be a gear in the mechanism that pushes forward to run and grind endlessly? Sure, being a cog in the mechanism can be painful, hard yet joyous.

Joy and love aren't easy emotions to define. They have many manifestations: love of family, love of friends, love of one special person – all feelings are of love which brings joy, but each differs from the other in unique ways with a common thread holding them together.

Deanna Lambert's between her sophomore and junior year of high school. She thinks that nearly everyone looks at her and thinks, “Skank���. The problem is they do. At age thirteen she succumbed to the dubious charms of seventeen year old, Tommy, a kid with a scarred faced and a ready supply of pot. Her father catches them in the throes of passion, aka sex, and it's all a quick slide downhill from there.

Her father can't look her in the eye, Tommy can't resist spreading the word about his exploit and her father's unfortunate discovery of said exploit. Thicken the plot with a family in serious upheaval. Her dad's lost his well paying job and is working at one that doesn't pay well and he hates; her brother's married his girlfriend and they have a baby; all three are living in the basement apartment of Deanna's family home; Deanna's mother has made an art of pretending that all's well as long as she plays her role properly. And, Deanna's planning a break with the family wherein she can help her brother, his wife and herself to take a huge step toward independence, their own place away from the disfunction they live in.

Independence. Can it come through a minimum wage job for Deanna in a raunchy pizza parlor where left over pizza and salad makings become the soup-of-the-day?

Reconciliation and forgiveness, not independence are core to recovering her self-respect.

The backdrop to Story of a Girl is a short list of characters who struggle to express and share their love for one another. They struggle to balance their lives with the reality of everyday disappoints and fleeting joy: Deanna, her father, her mother, her brother, his wife, their child, Deanna's friends Lee and Jason, Tommy the culprit who exploited Deanna's need for acceptance and love, and her gay boss who reaches out to her to offer compassion and friendship.

A cast of characters easily found in every person's life gives Sara Zarr's novel power. It's about the struggle of one family to find its way back to solid ground, yet it's about each of us and our own battles for acceptance, love and understanding.
Profile Image for Michelle.
37 reviews28 followers
November 24, 2008
Sara Zarr hit the nail on the head with her novel, Story of a Girl. In fact, I finally grabbed a pen and wrote down citations of things that kept striking a chord with me, totalling 29 paragraphs, bits of insights and places where she conveyed most perfectly the character and what it's like to be in that situation.

Ms. Zarr deftly created the environment that would absolutely contribute to each of Deanna's struggles: small town gossips, depressed and absentee parents, teenage impulsiveness, recreational drug use, closed-mindedness, the emptiness or void in her heart and lack of tangible love that leads her to choose Tommy and to betray Lee.

To be fair, if you've never had your reputation trashed like that, been desperately lonely, or if you've never felt the stinging dismissal of a parent as she did, it may be hard to identify with the character and her perspectives. So for those of you that didn't quite get it, perhaps for you it's a blessing that you didn't. For the rest of us, however, it was like getting good therapy vicariously. I know I haven't confronted my Tommy or been able to issue any public rebuttals to the gossips in my high school and home town church, to have any closure or forgiveness from friends I betrayed or to verbally give forgiveness to those who wronged me. To read Ms. Zarr's ending was realistically optimistic.

The kind of life I lead now is the only public rebuttal I can give. My truest friends in adulthood have all been a version of Lee. I've really been quite blessed.
Recommendations: A few f-words and some s-words, but used well. I personally had no trouble with them. I would recommend it if not for that, however, to give some people a glimpse into what closed-mindedness does to other people. I'll be re-reading this book as soon as I'm lucky enough to buy a copy all my own.
Profile Image for Tez.
845 reviews219 followers
May 8, 2016
CONTENT WARNING: Slut-shaming is a major theme here, told from the POV of the victim.

This is the second book in a row I've read that features a heroine in love with her male best friend who's in a relationship with their other female best friend. Weird coincidence. (Or is this common in YA?)

Sara Zarr has crafted an uncomfortable novel of the less-than-ideal situations that strike families and alter their relationships. Parents laid off from their long-time jobs. Older brother's girlfriend falls pregnant, decides to keep the baby, and everyone lives in the same house.

And then there's Deanna, who's sixteen now. At the age of thirteen, her father caught her in the backseat of a car with an older guy. Deanna's dad is paranoid she'll get pregnant, and so doesn't trust her alone with a guy.

When her plan falls through, Deanna's fear of the future is so real that it hurts to read. Though Story of a Girl ends optimistically, there are many struggles to get to that stage. It's not an easy read, but it's an important one that'll likely ring true for a lot of readers.
Profile Image for Stephanie A..
2,368 reviews67 followers
January 3, 2019
I was promised this book would "throw a sharp right hook at the assumptions people make about girls who have sex early." I highly doubted that, since the girl was 13 in the flashbacks and the opening sentences told me it was a deliberate decision on her part, but I pretended to give it a shot. Unfortunately, the book was also very careful to make sure and show me how she had no good reason for having sex early other than being the sort of idiot I despised in my peers when I was that age.

My problem is that I have never understood why girls want to hurry up and be thought of as "grown up." By the time I was 10, I was already nostalgic for childhood and wanted the aging process to slow down and stretch out. At 13, I still didn't quite feel old enough to date. Kissing was a grown-up activity you surely ought to be at least 14 to do. And, um, adults said drugs were bad, so...neither I nor my 13-year-old self can wrap our brains around why Little Miss Deanna here took a hit off a joint so an older guy would think she was cool. Did you miss the part where smoking pot makes you seem like a loser? That's what I learned in D.A.R.E. Which was still pretty fresh in my mind come middle school.

You hope that when the book switches back to her 16-year-old perspective, it will show you how far she's come or some kind of lessons she's learned, but no. Not really. Or at all.

My favorite character in this book is their father, who pretty much despises both of his children for their sexual misadventures and isn't afraid to show it (and who frankly is being more generous than he needs to be in allowing his son's girlfriend and their baby to live with them). His attitude cracks me up.

"She was up at five with the baby, Dad," Darren said. "She deserves to sleep in."
"What, she wants a reward for being a decent mother? Getting up with the baby is just part of the deal when you decide to get pregnant [and keep the baby]."

Anyway, just for kicks, I kept up a running commentary while reading this book -- so if you've finished and would like to read along...

FINAL CONCLUSION: I would like the time I invested in this book back, as if this story is anything to go by, my prior assumptions were quite accurate. She was a silly child then, who ought to have known better simply by listening to a society that told her what to avoid, and three years have given her scarcely any maturity at all. Forever shunning this title, starting now.

[2012 note: For the record, it took me years to get over my contempt of this story long enough to touch another book by Sara Zarr, whose name immediately became synonymous with every negative thing I could think of about "edgy" YA.]
Profile Image for Alyssa.
366 reviews284 followers
February 10, 2012
I came home today to hear that two girls – both who go to school with my sister, who are a year younger than I, and who I’ve never had a full-out conversation with – have called me a slut. Last week, I came home and heard the same thing. Last year, my own boyfriend called me such, in so many words. I’m left to ponder why I’ve been called such a derogatory term; is it because I have had lots of male friends? Is it because I like to wear tight clothing on my skinny days and sometimes wear a lot of eye make-up? Of course, I also have to wonder why they care so much and spend so much time talking about what I do (but don’t really do) with my life.

It frustrates me that people believe that they’re right in judging me, and so you’d think I’d get along great with novelist-extraordinaire Sara Zarr’s debut novel. However, that’s not exactly the case. While I very much like and commend the subject matter of Story of a Girl, and while I believe that it portrayed a realistic outlook on slut-shaming and family life, the book-like aspects of the story didn’t exactly settle with me.

Deanna’s story of the grief caused by others’ disrespect for her actions is what I believe to be a common and acutely accurate depiction of reality. Like with my situation, Deanna is subject to others’ berating of her and their blatant disregard for her, something which holds true in today’s society regarding the actions of teenagers, specifically girls. What really stands out about this book is the fact that it’s not expressed as a lesson, or as fiction with a strongly opinionated contemporary statement underlying – Zarr’s book seems to take the reader through the experience of the main character, somehow capturing great issues in our culture within the life of a teenage girl. The reality that hypocrites throughout high school exist, that family sometimes never forgives, that girls are called sluts for having fun and living a life…a lot of the time, these realities are conveyed in ways that are trying to be smart but simply come off pretentious. What stuck with me in Story of a Girl is that the book really is the story of a girl, and that it wasn’t trying to be anything other than that; it wasn’t trying to make me angry, think or cry, even though all of which I did.

Still, despite all those emotions, I felt very distanced from the story. Not only didn’t I like the journaling/additional writing, but I also felt like Zarr’s writing in itself was lacking a distinct and individual feel. I never was really involved or deeply connected with Story of a Girl, and while part of that may have been the writing style, it may have also been the characters. While I appreciated and understood the reasoning behind each and every character, at times I felt like they were exactly that – while the story itself wasn’t trying to be pretentious, I felt like many of the characters (Deanna’s friends, for example) were just service for plot development and Deanna’s character development. Aside from Deanna, her brother and sister-in-law, I could never get a good grasp on the other characters. Like I said – while I understand Deanna’s father’s placement in the story, it seemed like all he really did was serve the disappointed and angry father role. I know it’s confusing, how I felt about this book, but for some reason there was just some barrier that kept me from fully getting into it.

To those two girls miscalling me a slut, I recommend this book, in the hopes that they'll being to realize their idiocy. To confused teenagers and their mothers, I’d like to shove this book into your hands. While I struggled with aspects of this novel, I think it’d be remiss of me not to recommend it as I think it provides a sincere rendering of today’s culture.
Profile Image for Kritika.
811 reviews62 followers
June 3, 2011
If I wasn't reading this book for a reading challenge, I doubt I would have finished it. I think the mark of a truly bad book is one that you don't even remember after a day. This is one of those books.

I had prepared myself for not liking the protagonist; I knew from the book summary that she wasn't a golden girl, and that she had made some mistakes. This isn't so much a problem to me as her personality and the way she talked about her life. The whole book seemed to be "I could have done this like a good little girl...but I didn't because I'm me." I kept waiting for the author to explain her side of the story and shed some light onto why she isn't who her father thinks she is, but it never came. I came out of the book thinking that she was exactly who her father thought she was. I mean, what kind of a girl messes around with her brother's friend as an 8th grader, does drugs even after her family helps her quit, pines for her best friend's boyfriend (who happens to be her own childhood friend), and wants to move out of her own house? I understand that she was given a hard time about her big mistake, but it didn't exactly happen without her consent. It wasn't a singular occurrence either, and it just disgusted me that she would let herself be used like that just for the attention. Even after everything she went through, Deanna still wanted to work in the same place as Tommy and put herself in a very similar situation to what she went through earlier. Someone please explain to me Deanna's redeeming qualities, because I didn't see much of them.

I was also annoyed by how dysfunctional the Lambert family was. The daughter goes around with a guy for hours and her parents never notice. Deanna's just-out-of-high-school brother is a new father, and his wife has been disowned from her own family. The dad is a wreck, who just can't let go of the past - both his own and his daughter's. The mom is this chirpy, shallow woman who just pretends everything is okay even when the evidence stares her in the face. Basically, everyone in the family is a little messed up, with the exception of perhaps baby April. I appreciated the Stacy-scare and Deanna's confrontation towards the end of the book, and I expected something cathartic to follow, but it didn't.

This book just disappointed me on so many levels. I was promised "a reminder of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption" by the book description, and I didn't see any of it. I have read and liked stories about girls that have made some really bad decisions but managed to recover, so I know that I am not inherently prejudiced to this genre. Somehow there was just nothing for me to like in this book.
Profile Image for Jano.
692 reviews409 followers
May 19, 2017
Reseña completa en: http://elcaosliterario.blogspot.com.e...

Lo que me ha llamado muchísimo la atención es que el libro gira en torno al trato que es sometida la protagonista por parte de su padre, vecinos y demás, sin embargo, el chico que tenía 17 años y se acostó con una niña de 13, es algo que prácticamente ni se menciona. Podría decir que este tema no ocupa ni media página. Entiendo que es un libro y se está mostrando esa realidad, pero sería fundamental mostrar la otra o por lo menos que quedase constancia de esta injusticia.

Los personajes son pocos y hay algunas subtramas interesantes como la maternidad en adolescentes, mala relación con padres, machismo, independencia... todo narrado de una manera coloquial y un libro pensado, sobre todo, para ser leído por lectores jóvenes. Con la protagonista es muy fácil empatizar y entender por lo que está pasando. Otro personaje que me gustó además de ella fue el de Jason, imprescindible para Deanna a lo largo de la historia.

La traducción de este libro es algo que por veces no me ha convencido demasiado. Algunas frases se tradujeron de una manera demasiado literal y, aunque se entienden perfectamente, podrían sonar mejor con una traducción más adaptada y no tan fiel a la original. El uso del verbo "antojar" no me encaja en un lenguaje tan coloquial y se usa continuamente a lo largo de la historia.

El final me dejó un poco frío. Es un final cerrado pero eché en falta más de una conversación seria para dar el cierre definitivo porque tampoco termina muy diferente a la manera en que empieza.

Exceptuando estos últimos detalles que comento, el libro ha sido una lectura interesante y lo he leído muy rápido. Es un libro del que se podría hablar mucho por los temas que trata aunque la autora debió ser un poco más delicada.

En resumen: una historia en la que se tratan temas como el machismo o la doble moral y que por desgracia siguen de actualidad. Un libro para reflexionar y concienciar sobre ciertas actitudes que deberían desaparecer cuanto antes.
Profile Image for Cathy.
937 reviews4 followers
December 30, 2007
Like her older brother Darren, Deanna is a big disappointment to her father. When in 8th grade Deanna's father caught her with a high school boy in his car. Nothing has been right since. She dreams of moving out with Darren, his girlfriend and their baby and she hopes to help pay for a move with the earnings from her summer job in a pizzeria. She never thought she'd run into Tommy again, but he to works at the pizzeria and is bent on harassing her. Deanna has a lot of issues to work out and she's a well developed, character. At one point her life starts to spin out of control as she makes a bad judgement call, but in the end it is all wrapped up, a bit too neatly.
Profile Image for Cory.
Author 1 book399 followers
January 13, 2011
My feelings on this book are mixed. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it. It's probably up there with John Green. It tackles some difficult issues and it does it without seeming melodramatic. But on the other hand, a few characters are underdeveloped and I could do without the poems/vignettes Deanna wrote at the beginning of some of the chapters.

Story of a Girl follows sixteen-year-old Deanna who has a reputation for being the town slut. However, Deanna has only been with one guy, Tommy, her brother's drug buddy who happened to be seventeen when she was thirteen. Tommy spread his side of the story so now the whole town knows. And her father caught her in the act. What could be worse you ask? Oh, her brother had a kid with his girlfriend, and her only two best friends, Jason and Lee, are dating. Life definitely sucks for Deanna.

To make things worse, she gets a job at a pizza place that Tommy works at. Her Dad still hates her. And things are awkward with her friends because she has a psuedo-crush on Jason.

Yes, sucks to be her. But she doesn't do all the self-pitying that I hate in YA. She gets over it and manages to get over her problems. Sure she cries a lot, but people do that. She gets herself together and talks about her issues. God, I hate when people don't communicate. This book pretty much handles all those awkward things instead of running away from them. And it doesn't do them in a disgusting way. Most of the plot lines were interesting. I was worried about her boss, Michael, turning into a gay stereotype. But he narrowly managed to avoid it.

Now her friends were a bit underdeveloped. I would have liked to see more of them. The fact that they play a pretty big part of the story, but are only two dimensional kind of annoyed me. I would have liked the father to come around a bit sooner. I did like how the teen pregnancy was handled, and how she settled things with Tommy. You can't hold a 13 year-old responsible for that sort of stuff. Especially when the guy is 4 years older than her. Sex was handled pretty maturely in this. None of it was gratuitous. There wasn't that much cussing either. Nor was their any alcohol, but they were smoking pot. I'd suspend my belief on this, but they were in some backwater town north of California. I don't know why it felt like they were in the suburbs of Seattle. I guess because this reminded me of Twilight in a way. Only a million times better. Deanna is like everything Bella isn't.

I'd say 3.75 stars on this. It was better than a Elizabeth Scott book. It was better than The DUFF. I'd even say it was better than half of the books Sarah Dessen has written. The writing was a bit weak at times, but over all it was pretty good. It stayed on melodramatic at times, but quickly pulled back. I'd check out another Sara Zarr book anytime.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books489 followers
May 12, 2008
Reviewed by Amber Gibson for TeensReadToo.com

Have you ever done something that you wish you could take back? Something that changed your life forever?

We've all been there. We've all done something that we regret. Just like all of us, Deanna was once caught doing something that she wasn't proud of. Unfortunately for her, it almost ruined her teen years. Just one dumb relationship, sprinkled with naiveté and trust, and suddenly Deanna finds herself with the vulgar label of the school slut. It wasn't what she'd asked for; she'd only ever been with one guy. But the stories just won't stop. Like a horrible rerun of a hated sitcom, it seems like everywhere she turns, Deanna is confronted with what she did one night in a boy's car--and the fact that her father caught her doing it.

Deanna's story is touching, and the worst example of how one event can seem to define a person's life. But like the fighter she is, Deanna tries to move on and just live her life as normally as possible, with her two best friends and her family. But her family life isn't exactly picturesque. Her older brother, his wife Stacy, and their baby daughter are living in the basement. Her father is always arguing with Stacy, and Deanna thinks that he hates Stacy almost as much as he hates her since that fateful night when Deanna's life fell apart. Her mother loves her and tries so hard to give Deanna the care that she needs, but somehow it doesn't quite make up for the fact that their family is just barely scraping by. On top of all that, Deanna doesn't know if she'll ever make it out of Pacifica, a little dump of a town in the otherwise glamorous state of California.

After sophomore year is over, Deanna is stuck at home all summer. To get out of the house and keep her busy, she gets her first job at a little local pizza parlor. There, she discovers that the same boy who came so close ruining her life three years earlier is now her co-worker. While she struggles to understand her feelings towards him, she is also struggling at home to live with the strange family arrangement and someday find a way out.

Over the course of the summer, Deanna learns a lot about herself, her friends, and her family. By the time she returns to high school as a junior, she has a much better understanding of who she is, and that nobody else can define her. Sara Zarr did a wonderful job of creating Deanna, such a vulnerable character whose thoughts and actions are so believable. Never again will I judge somebody from a story I once heard about them, after seeing Deanna's account of just how much that can hurt.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,340 reviews227 followers
February 4, 2018

After thirteen-year-old Deanna’s father finds her in the back seat of a car with Tommy, a high school senior she becomes known as the school slut. Three years later her father still can’t look her in the eye. Her mother’s no help and her older brother is too busy with his girlfriend and their new baby to do much. When Deanna gets a job at a pizza place, she’s forced to see Tommy, her coworker while things at home are only getting more tense.

Although Deanna makes mistakes and isn’t always thoughtful, she’s very sympathetic. No victim of statutory rape deserves to be labeled a slut. She thought she was a willing participant, but was too young to consent, too young to understand the consequences of her actions, too young to have sex. When I was in high school in the late 1970s, early 1980s, a senior dating an eighth grader wasn’t taboo. **I** thought it odd a football star would date a middle schooler in one instance, but what did I know about dating. A friend told be, “She’s a cheerleader” as if that shrunk the age gap. I’m glad we know better now.

Tommy told all his friends following Deanna’s father’s discovery, made his behavior a joke and suffered no consequences. Standards for sexual behavior are unfortunately different for boys and girls, men and women. He’s a stud, she’s a slut for the same actions.

I loved Deanna’s relationship with her brother and with her boss, Michael.

THE STORY OF A GIRL is a story of forgiveness, forgiving others for their imperfections and bad behavior and most of all forgiving ourselves, yet never pushes an agenda of forgiveness as necessary. Sara Zarr shows the story in a poignant, but never overwrought manner.

I didn’t appreciate how Tommy’s workplace behavior went unaddressed by Michael, although Michael did say he’d protect her. Tommy clearly harassed Deanna, in subtle ways like standing too close and with verbal innuendo. I wish that had been addressed as not okay, especially since Michael was portrayed as a hero to Deanna.

THE STORY OF A GIRL is a good illustration of double standards with an imperfect, realistic ending.
Profile Image for Claire (Book Blog Bird).
1,055 reviews38 followers
October 25, 2018
This was a pretty short book and I read it in a day (I'm on half term at the moment, can you tell?) It's about a girl who makes a serious error of judgement when she's thirteen and lives the next three years totally regretting her actions and being shamed for something she did my her small-town schoolmates. It deals with family dynamics and how people deal with the aftermath of mistakes they've made. It was a pretty good read. The characters were interesting and complex. The plot didn't do a great deal, and there was a lot of introspection, but it didn't put me off.
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