Sunday, September 27, 2009

Story of a Girl. By Sara Zarr

Title: Story of a Girl
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN: 0316014540
Date: February 1, 2008

Critical Review:

This was a moving story of a girl named Deanna and her difficult relationship with her father after being caught having sex in the back of a car. Rumors spread across this small town and labeled Deanna as “easy.” Deanna struggles with her feeling in friendships, romantic relationships, and family dynamics.

The author did a good job with the plot, characterization, setting and theme. For example, the plot is very believable and I feel that many teens could relate to Deanna’s problems. The characterization in this story had a good balance. There was not an overpowering force of one over the other. Even though Deanna had some real difficulties, you were introduced to her caring best friend Lee, who never gave up on their friendship even after Deanna kissed Lee’s boyfriend Jason. I liked Lee’s character and I wished the author included her more instead of having her away camping only to have her return in the end. Deanna’s brother was very protective of her and it was nice to see the relationship between the two. The setting was in a small town that was thoroughly described as everyone knows everything and this attitude carries to the high school.

I felt the author did a good job of showing an insight to teen readers that they need to understand the consequences of their actions. This consequence was especially present because her brother Darren and his girlfriend Stacy who are young unwed parents and must live in the basement of Darren and Deanna parent’s house. Another great example of this was when Deanna talked about her regret to losing her virginity to Tommy, the boy that her father caught her with. In the end, I was happy to see that Deanna was mending her relationship with her father and Lee, her best friend.

This book would be appealing to teens because I feel teens could relate to Deanna’s problems. The issues in this book go far beyond one area. They include family issues, peer relationships, school cliques, drug use and unplanned pregnancies (Darren and Stacy). Good book!

Review Excerpts:

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2007):

"At thirteen, Deanna is caught by her father having sex with Tommy, a seventeen-year-old. Three years later, Deanna's peers still whisper about her reputation, and her father hardly speaks to her. Deanna desperately struggles to escape her past, despite sometimes missing the way Tommy made her feel wanted. Deanna's motivations to have sex, and the consequences, are thoughtfully, honestly, and convincingly explored. Category: Older Fiction. 2007, Little, 192pp, 16.99. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 27, 2009).


This would be a great book to use in a teen book club to help teens open up and discuss family problems, social issues such as dating and sexual behavior and forgiveness. I feel that many teens will be able to relate to the characters in the story and that they would read this book leisurely.

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