Story of a Girl

( 267 )

Overview

I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy's Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montara at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night. Tommy was seventeen and the supposed friend of my brother, Darren.
I didn't love him.
I'm not sure I even liked him.

In a moment, Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the ...

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Overview

I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy's Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montara at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night. Tommy was seventeen and the supposed friend of my brother, Darren.
I didn't love him.
I'm not sure I even liked him.

In a moment, Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," Deanna 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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."
John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska

"This is a hell of a good book."
Chris Crutcher, author of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

"Throws a sharp right hook at the assumptions people make about girls who have sex early."
E. Lockhart, author of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and The Boyfriend List

"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."
Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Jingle Dancer and Indian Shoes

* "Realistic fiction at its best. Zarr's storytelling is excellent....An emotionally charged story...recommended for both teens and the adults who live and work with them."
School Library Journal (starred review)

Publishers Weekly

Zarr's involving yet somewhat anti-climactic debut opens with a bang as Deanna Lambert recalls the moment that caused everything in her life to change: "I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy's Buick." Following this incident with the then 17-year-old boy, Deanna is shunned by her father and labeled "the school slut" by her peers. In her small town, the tag sticks, and continues to define Deanna's life for the next three years. Now 16, she lands a summer job only to discover that Tommy works at the same place. But seeing him sparks flashbacks, and through them Zarr give readers insight into how Deanna was drawn to Tommy, and the complicated feelings the teen experienced ("I don't mean anything corny like I fell in love.... It was more a feeling like when I'd get picked first for volleyball"). The author credibly explores Deanna's confusion about how good it feels to be with Tommy and her thoughts that she should be feeling something else. The narrative is less credible when she erupts at her best (girl)friend, Lee—paving the way for Deanna to kiss her longtime best friend, Jason (who is also Lee's boyfriend)—and also when Deanna confronts Tommy after a makeout session. Although the loose ends are tied up at the end, readers may find Deanna's character somewhat contradictory. But Zarr convincingly creates a teen trapped by small-minded people in a small town. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Florence H. Munat
As an eighth grader, Deanna Lambert made a mistake: She allowed her older brother Darren's pothead friend Tommy to have sex with her several times in Tommy's car. She did not love Tommy, but his attention felt like the only good thing in her life. Their meetings ended when her father discovered them. Now sixteen, Deanna still experiences fallout from her past. Her classmates in Pacifica, California, have dubbed her the "school slut." Her once-beloved father will not talk to or look at her. And her working-class family seems on the verge of breakdown when Darren and his girlfriend have a baby and move into the Lamberts' basement. Keeping Deanna afloat is her unrealistic dream that she and Darren's little family will save money from their minimum-wage jobs and move out. She also has positive relationships with Jason, whom she has known since childhood, and Lee, a town newbie who becomes Jason's girlfriend. Although she loves them both, Deanna's jealousy leads to trouble. When she starts work at a pizza restaurant and finds Tommy employed there, her life seems impossibly complicated. Ultimately by taking mature responsibility for her actions, Deanna works through it all. This first-person narrative is unusually sensitive and perceptive. Zarr explores Deanna's emotional life convincingly, and her portrait of young parents working opposite shifts and living with parents to make ends meet is realistic. The skillful use of flashbacks explains how Deanna became involved with Tommy. Dialogue is contemporary and funny. One quibble is the overuse of franchise names. This highly recommended novel will find a niche with older, more mature readers because of frank references to sex and some x-ratedlanguage.
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Deanna Lambert is a girl with a past. Ever since she was caught by her father having sex with her brother's friend in the backseat of a car, her life has become a high school joke. The event not only haunts her but also defines who she is. Now that summer is here, Deanna is looking for a job that will give her enough money to help her brother and his wife and daughter to move out of a difficult home situation, taking her with them. The only job she can get is one working in a pizza parlor with Tommy, the high school boy from the backseat. Her brother Darren and his wife have a falling out and Deanna is caught in the middle. Deanna's friends Lee and Jason provide support and encouragement, but she finds herself uncomfortably in the middle of that relationship as well. In one weak moment she goes out with Tommy and almost becomes the girl in the high school joke. Instead she channels her frustrations, forgives Tommy and is finally able to put the past behind her. As the novel ends, Deanna is nervously preparing for the new school year. This is a gritty story of a girl trying to reclaim herself in a world that has already written her story for her. Her determination, however, provides an example of what it takes to survive. Her father's displeasure and distrust are palpable and the tension in Deanna's life threatens to break her, but she steps up, makes some tough decisions and starts to define who she really is.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Deanna is a high school sophomore and already she has a past. Her dad caught her having sex with Tommy Webster in the back of his old Buick when she was thirteen, and he hasn't been able to look her in the eye since. Tommy's bragged freely about his conquest, and Deanna's branded the school slut. Meanwhile Jason and Lee, her two best friends, start dating, and Deanna's brother and his girlfriend struggle to sort out their own relationship with each other and with the baby they hadn't planned on. Deanna's mistake haunts her every step, seeming to condemn her to a drab life with no escape in sight. Zarr's first person narrative is simple and heartfelt, and we are drawn into Deanna's world. Secondary characters are depicted with delicate care, and even Tommy as antagonist is shown to be vulnerable. It's easy to become trapped in the acute limitations of a first person voice, and Zarr handles it with realism and grace. The parents, who teeter on their own shared brink of personal failure, are particularly compelling, all the more so as we see them through Deanna's eyes. A Philip Booth poem is included in front matter. The protagonist's journal entries are scattered between chapters, adding depth and offering readers a few brief contemplative moments. In the end this is a story of forgiveness, and of young people overcoming obstacles to find their own paths and voices.
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
When Deanna's father catches her having sex in a car when she is 13, her life is drastically changed. Two years later, he still can't look her in the eye, and though Tommy is the only boy she's been with, she is branded the school slut. Her entire family watches her as though she is likely to sleep with anyone she sees, and Tommy still smirks at and torments her when she sees him. Her two best friends have recently begun dating, and Deanna feels like an intruder. She tries to maintain a close relationship with her older brother, but Darren and his girlfriend are struggling as teenage parents. Deanna learns to protect herself by becoming outwardly tough, but feels her isolation acutely. Her only outlet is her journal in which she writes the story of an anonymous girl who has the same experiences and feelings that she does. Through this, readers see the potential that Deanna cannot identify in herself. This is a heartbreaking look at how a teenager can be defined by one mistake, and how it shapes her sense of self-worth. This is realistic fiction at its best. Zarr's storytelling is excellent; Deanna's reactions to the painful things said to her will resonate with any reader who has felt like an outsider. It is an emotionally charged story, with language appropriate to the intensity of the feelings. Story of a Girl is recommended for both teens and the adults who live and work with them.—Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MDCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Sophomore Deanna Lambert made just one mistake to turn herself into the "school slut." Back in eighth grade, Deanna's father caught her having sex with a high-school boy. Nothing has been the same since that painful night, and Deanna's extremely dysfunctional family is not much help. There are just two people who are willing to take the razzing of being the friends of "slutty Deanna," and she misses her loving dad who has turned into a man who can neither look her in the eye nor give her any affection. She continues to make mistakes when vain hopes of leaving her folks' house with her brother, his girlfriend and baby are squashed. Ultimately, she resolves her anger toward the boy who seduced her, realizing she is repeating patterns and wants to change. Zarr's story ends on a hopeful but realistic note with everyone taking baby steps toward something approaching normalcy. This involving, touching first novel will resonate with those who have made mistakes and those who have not. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316014540
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 77,223
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr was raised in San Francisco, California. She is the author of How to Save a Life, What We Lost, Sweethearts, and the National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl. She is also the coauthor of Roomies, with Tara Altebrando.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 267 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(139)

4 Star

(75)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 267 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A taste of the ugly side of reality.

    Deanna is caught by her dad having sex with Tommy when she is thirteen. And after that things change. Tommy tells the whole school, and so she's always known just for being slutty, even though Tommy was the first and only guy she'd ever done anything with. Her dad has never been able to look at her the same after what happened, and so her entire life is changed.<BR/>Now, a couple years later, Deanna wants things to change. She makes plans in her mind that include moving out with her older brother and his family, and she tries to remain secretive about her feelings for her best friend. In the meantime, Tommy and Deanna are working at the same pizza place.<BR/>This book was so powerful and amazing, I can definitely understand how it became so popular. It's amazing how deep it was, and how I could see into Deanna's emotions and understand exactly how she was feeling. I felt like the writing was amazing and all of the characters were realistic, including the minor characters. The story was beautifully written and while it was short, it still touched me in a new way. Aside from my all time fave, K S Michaels, there really is no book like 'Story of a Girl'.

    40 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Dealing With Your Past

    This book was so insightful. It delves into the truth of what happens behind closed doors, and the consequences of what happens when those doors are opened. It tells the story of Deanna, a girl who at age thirteen was caught by her father in the back seat of a car with older brother's seventeen year-old "best friend" doing something she shouldn't have been. Thus far known to the general public a slut, Deanna wishes her life were not as is it. She wishes her father would talk to her again without hurting her, she wishes that he would just look at her without scorn; She wishes her brother and his small family would take them with her when they at long last leave her parents house. In an attempt to make the later a more realistic option Deanna gets a job, only to find that her past is ther waiting for her. All the while she discovers her love for a friend she know she can't have, and discovers bits of herself and who she really is. This novel forced me to examine things that have occured in my own past, and discover parts of who I am as an individual. Truly an inspiring work.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Emotional Masterpiece

    The book will put you in tears as you stay up all night to see what happens next!

    13 year old Deanna was overcome by the sexy 17 year old Tommy and ended getting dragged out of his car, with her pants around her ankles, by her father.
    Years later, Deanna's father still hasn't been able to look in the eyes. Her brother (Tommy's ex-friend) got his girlfriend pregnant and is living in the basement. Deanna has been trying to ignore all the talk about her and Tommy along with the terrible family life they (her, her brother, his girlfriend, and his daughter) have to put up with.
    [Sorry for the drab summary, the book deserves a much better one than this.]

    Despite my lousy summary, read the book. It brought me to tears multiple times and kept me up until 2 am for I could finish it.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Didn't enjoy it. At all.

    This book made me sit around and mope for days, and I'm not even sure why. Probably because I was already in a bad enough mood, and I had nothing else to read once I finished it. It was just depressing, and not even depressing in a makes-you-think-about-life way. It was depressing in a boring book I read on my vacation to Florida way. Why did it win an award?

    I would not recommend this book to anyone.

    8 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    A Teenage Struggle

    Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr is one of the best books out there for teenage girls to read. Every teenage girl should read this book because it shows what could happen if you make the wrong decisions and if you are forced to live with them because they will never go away, just like Deanna and her father. Sara Zarr did a fantastic job on writing story of girl, once you started reading it you just couldn't stop. There was always something going on such as Deanna having to deal with Tommy at work, the awkwardness with her father, or fighting between Darren and Stacy.
    This book was amazing, I could read it over and over and I would never get tired of it. It is one of those books that many people can relate to and they know how the main character feels. When Deanna Lambert was 13 years old her brothers supposed best friend Tommy Webber who was 17 when he started dating Deanna. One night she was with Tommy in the backseat of his car when her dad caught them having sex. When they got to school Tommy told everyone what had happened and from that moment on Deanna was known as the "school slut". So many different stories were made up about her and none of them were true, the only ones who knew the true story were her and Tommy. From that point on in the car her dad has never been able to look into his daughters eyes.
    This book was absolutely marvelous; I could not put the book down. Especially when Stacy left and no one could find her, she just left Darren and April (their baby). One of the best parts is when no one came to pick her up from work so Tommy had to take her home. They started kissing which was absolutely wrong on her part along with his but then she just got out of the car crying and then he got out to and she said how come you told everyone, I was so young and still am and Tommy said I'm sorry, I'm sorry for everything I have done to you. Deanna had no response so they got back in the car and went home. Another good part of the book is when the whole family is in the kitchen and they were talking and Deanna said how come you hate me dad and he said I don't hate why would you think that? Darren then came into the conversation and said how could she not think that dad, she knew what she did was wrong so just let it go. You could tell he was about to cry so he just left the room.
    I loved the books plot, message, characters, and writing style. To me it seemed that it all fit together. I couldn't see the book any other way. This book is definitely a "must read". I give it 5 out of 5 Ashley's.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I declare...

    Honestly, I expected it to be better. The plot seemed dull and nonexistant, and there was very little character change to pull it off. However, most of the characters were likeable, if somewhat undeveloped. The end offered very little resolution, and it wasn't to my tastes. I think the author was trying to hard, between "the girl of the sea" and other annoyances. By far, the worst thing about this book for me is the overuse of the word "declaration". It was in there at least nine times (and this is a very short novel).

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    :(

    *Warning- there are some spoliers in my review- not a lot though* This book was horrible. Sorry, but I think it was. I read the back and thought it was going to be really good, you know- learning to ignore what everyone calls her at school, finding herself, staying true, but no. It was during the summer. So there was no plot. None at all. It was basically just: Oh, my dad hates me, I got a job, I got into a fight with my best friend, I kissed my BFF's boyfriend, wow I am so bad. There was no plot, nothing interesing about it. I really could not stand this book. Also, it used the word 'declaration' wayyy too much.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Sad Teenage Life (TJ)

    In the novel, The Story of a Girl you learn about the rough life of a teenager. Deanna Lambert, the main character, has a about her life she wishes she could change. She has made a major mistake in her early teenage years and wishes she could go back and do things over again. Unfortunately, the mistake cost Deanna her reputation around the small town she lives in; she was then known as a "bad girl". Through the rest of her adolescent life Deanna tries to do the right thing, in fear of making her parents ashamed of her again. All the while Deanna longs for a better relationship with her father because after what happened that night with Tommy Webber things were really never the same.

    Honestly, I did not enjoy this book. It was slow from the start and it seemed to just go on and on until you actually saw something interesting happen. The main character was wallowing in self pity. She was stuck on all the problems of her sad life and wouldn't really do anything about all of that. I think some teenage girls should get at least a little more credit than that! Also, I read all the way through the book and got to the end and it just stopped. This book stopped so abruptly that I flipped through the next few pages looking for more, but there was nothing! I felt like I was left hanging. I've read another book by Sara Zarr called Sweethearts and I absolutely loved it. I wish this book would have been at least a little like her other novel.

    I strongly recommend Sweethearts by the same author, Sara Zarr. This book I really loved! It was definitely a page turner in my opinion. I couldn't put the book down!

    I also recommend teenage girls to read books in one of the series Melody Carlson writes which I call "the color series". I have read Deep Green, Burnt Orange, and I am now reading Blade Silver. I could not put these books down when I started reading them. The series is about many teenage girl's lives, therefore, it is easy for a teenage girl to relate to what is happening in these novels.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2012

    O.K. I haven't even read this book so maybe I'm like way off bas

    O.K. I haven't even read this book so maybe I'm like way off base here but........ the girl in the book is sitting there complaining because everyone thinks she's a slut but COME ONE!!!!! She was having sex with her brother's seventeen year old best friend at 13!!!!!!! SHE FREAKING IS A SLUT!!!!

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    This booknwas great

    This book was great. When i read the review i was thinking that it woulnt be good but i read it anyway and it was great! Some parts were alittle dull but most of the book kept me on my feet. I didnt like the ending to much. I think it could have had a little more added to it like what happened with her friends was it normal? Or what was going to happen between her and tommy. But it was still a great book. I say you should read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Great Book!

    In my opinion, a great book is a book you can't stop reading. A book where you're eyes are practically cemented to the pages. Story of a Girl was one of those books. When Deanna first found out that Tommy- the guy who she was caught in the car with by her dad- was working at the same place as her, I was captivated at what would happen next. If your looking for a story that is realistic, funny, and a book worth re-reading a bunch of times, you've come to the right place. Story of a Girl deserves to be on any girl's bookshelf.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read for all teens and young adults

    When I first picked up this book, it was a tad out of my leauge so I wasn't sure I would like it. But within 10 minutes I was addicted and ended up buying and reading the book in 2 days. You see into Deanna's mind truthfully and the story is so well written and amazing. A few days later I acctually decided to give the book to my 13 year old sister, but wasn't sure if she would be old enough for this. But she acctually finished faster than I and loved it. You feel like your in the book. Sad to put it down, though I wasn't completely thrilled with the ending. But still an addciting and REAL plot line. A MUST READ

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    what happened to the imagination, the emotion and the good endings? what happened to the story in the story of a girl?

    The book was a let down. Why? Well because you would think that by seeing the title and reading the summary, it would be a better time spender. "Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of school slut, Deanna longs to escape a life defined by her past." Ok so it doesn't sound like a great book, but it sounds like something that has allot going on.
    There are infinite possibilities of things that could happen with that girls life throughout the book for example she could change and do something great to change her image, or she could change cities and start again, or simply keep being the school slut. but instead she spends her days feeling sorry for herself and not doing anything about it. This book to me seams like someone simply decided to write about some random girls life, chopping a part of her life and writing it down.not much to it, nothing going on. Its almost as if the book is too real, liken if there was no imagination in it.
    The language is simple and clear, making it really easy to get through the book. But it sort of has an edge that keeps you waiting or expecting something big, something interesting to happen. The struggle for a new reputation, a new way of life, the search to peel off and throw away all those stories and thoughts about her. all that gossip. These things keep us attached to Deanna, and rooting for her to find the answer and be happy. In contrast her lack of action to do something about it. well that just frustrated me and made me want to stop reading.
    But I did finish the book. Obviously I did not like it, but then again maybe that just me.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2013

    Great!!!

    Love this book.. Actually I own it, I didn't bye it of of my kindle. I HAD IT BEFORE. Still, great book!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    Loved this book!!! Beautiful!!!

    This book reminded me of my life, in fact it was exactly like my life. It shows how Deanna's life now has an awful label on it because of a mistake that she made years ago, and that's exactly how i feel everyday since i made the same mistake 2 and a half years ago!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    what an amazing book

    this book changed my life. its sad,heart-warming, and interesting. i would recommend this book to anywho who's over the age of 12

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Feels Like Real Life

    Story of a Girl is one of the realist fiction books I've read. It's a story that you can relate to in many situations and the feeling of connecting with the characters starts right from the getgo. It's the tale of three friends and their secrets, and how they struggle to keep themselves together. Great read, I recommend it to all!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What do you do when your dad hates you because of a mistake that happened three years ago?

    Deanna was thirteen when she would hang out with Tommy in his truck. Its three years later and there's still rumors going around about her. However through all her problems she learns to face the facts and stay true to herself. This book is really a great book. I deffinetly recommend this book to not only girls but guys too. I really took this book to heart, and its just unforgettable. Read it!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Thoughtful and moving

    I liked this book because of the way it focused not just so much on the main character's sexual experience, but on the aftermath of that experience: the way she is treated differently by her family, especially her father; her friends at school, and by the community in general. Too often, sex and romance are depicted as being the only meaningful growth experiences, and in this book, they are a minimal part of the character's development. I also liked the book's realistic setting. This is one of the few YA novels I've read where the characters are not upper middle class, and worries about work, money, and opportunity are a significant part of the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2009

    inevitable reputation

    Story of a girl, by Sara Zarr, was an amazing book. it gave a detailed story of Deanna's past and and left me on the edge of my seat. i realized to never judge a book my it's cover. this book was exciting and interesting. she was an innocent girl, and it only took one mistake, one misunderstanding, and one boy, to ruin her entire highschools and beyond years. deanna was thirteen and slept with her brothers best friend. she hadn't had her first date, first kiss, or even first boyfriend. tommy took advantage of her. the worst part was that her dad caught them in the back of his truck, and it was no more to tommy than the funniest story to spread around the town. people made comments to hime such as, "good job, thatta guy, or nice". But for deanna, people she didnt even know expected her to be easy. they'd call her slut, ask to get with her and touch her without any of her own concent. her dad hated her, he was embarassed to have a daughter with such reputation. as time blew over, the rumor never did. it was always ranked number one. years later Deanna found herself imploye at the same place as tommy, it brought back good and bad memories, feelings, and brought her a future. it was a struggle to manage that and all of her problems at home.
    i would recomend this book to any young girl. its realistic on problems and the unfortunate way of dealing with them. it really makes you watch what you do, and was overall an amazing book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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