Marisa's Reviews > Story of a Girl

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
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's review
Aug 05, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: ya, problem-novels-ish
Recommended to Marisa by: Carol and others
Recommended for: problem novel girls
Read in June, 2008

So, I usually don't read books in one sitting, but that's exactly what I did with this one over the weekend. The first page of the book sums up the plot much better than I ever could:

"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 even sure I liked him.
The car was cold and Tommy was stoned and we'd been there doing pretty much the same thing a dozen times before, and I could smell the salt air from the beach, and in my head I wrote the story of a girl who surfed the cold green ocean, when one day she started paddling in the wrong direction and didn't know it until she looked back and couldn't see the shore.
In my head I wrote the story, while Tommy did his thing, one hand wrapped around my ponytail.
It was the girl -- the surfer girl -- I had on my mind when Tommy swore and got off me. My dad dragged him out of the car, then me. He threw Tommy to the ground and pushed me into our old Tercel.
Right before we pulled out of the lot, I stole a look at my dad. There might have been tears slipping down his cheek, or it might have been a trick of the headlights bouncing off the night fog.
I started to say something. I don't remember what.
'Don't,' he said.
That was almost three years ago.
My dad hasn't looked me in the eye or talked to me, really talked to me, since."

Tommy doesn't hold his silence about the event, and Deanna is still branded the school slut three years later, even though she hasn't slept with anyone or even really dated anyone since.

Her home life isn't any easier -- her dad still hates her. He's equally dissappointed in her older brother Darren, who still lives at home with his girlfriend and their unplanned baby.

Powerful and thoughtful, this is a great book to challenge conceptions of "promiscuous" teen girls. Perfectly describes that desperate searching for approval I remember so well. A couple of good quotes:

"The main thing, though, was the way he looked at me. Like I was being seen for the first time."

"Him saying that made me feel dumb. I should have walked away, but at that moment I wanted more than anything for someone to keep looking at me the way he did. I stared hard at myself and decided maybe the makeup didn't look so good; not trashy like he said, but like I was trying too hard. Like a little kid playing dress up, which is basically what I was."

"When the remembering was done, the forgetting could begin."

"We'd walk home together in the foggy summer night and I'd tell her about sex; the good stuff, like how it could be warm and exciting -- it took you away -- and the not-so-good things, like, how once you showed someone that part of yourself, you had to trust them one thousand percent and anything could happen. Someone you thought you knew could change and suddenly not want you, suddenly decide you made a better story than a girlfriend. Or how sometimes you might think you wanted to do it and then halfway through or afterwards realize no, you just wanted the company, really; you wanted someone to choose you, and the sex part itself was like a trade-off, something you felt like you had to give to get the other part."
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