Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Plot Summary:
Deanna Lambert is desperate to get away from Pacifica. Three years ago, her father caught her and Tommy in the back seat of his car and nothing has been the same since. With a tarnished reputation, and no one to rely other than Lee and Jason, Deanna is floating through life, wishing she had a second chance. Deanna wants nothing more than to be wanted and needed. Could this be the reason why she let a seventeen-year-old boy take advantage of her thirteen-year-old self? Is that why she concocted a plan to escape Pacifica with her brother, Darren, his girlfriend, Stacy, and their baby, April, because they will need her and want her help? In order to leave, Deanna applies for jobs to earn money, but when she takes the job at Picasso's Pizza, she learns that she will work alongside the they very man who stole her innocence. Although no one knows she is working with Tommy, something in Deanna shifts. She wants nothing more than to scream and destroy Tommy for what he did, but he has this hold on her that she can't shake.  Just when thing couldn't possible get any worse, Stacy goes missing leaving April and Darren behind, which initiates a chain of events that lead to one inevitable truth: Deanna will have to find her own way out of Pacifica, away from her parents and away from Tommy. For the first time in her life, Deanna will confront the past and decide to deal with it. In this emotionally driven story, Deanna must look deep within herself to find the courage to go on with her life and learn to forgive and love who she is.
Critical Evaluation:
Wow. Oh wow. I Zarr has written a story that is not only honest, but is unbelievably heart-wrenching and difficult to read. Deanna has wanted nothing more then to be loved and wanted. When Tommy started to notice her, she actually thought that someone may actually love her like the couples she reads about or watched on television. However, what she got was a lifetimes worth of pain and heartache. What angers me the most about this story is that Deanna was a 13 years old when Tommy molested her and the one who is punished is Deanna; I am calling it molesting because Tommy convinced her in every aspect that this is what she wanted so she willingly participated in the acts they committed. What's worse is that her own father refused to press charges against Tommy because he didn't want people knowing that he caught them in the back of Tommy's car having sex and he punished her by shaming her very day of her life. Deanna, at the time, was willing to do anything for Tommy because she truly believed he loved her, but, when he told the whole town about their intimate moments, she became the town pariah. From what it sounds like, Tommy is just a big idiot who said he didn't mean to hurt her, but, from his behavior, its obvious that he realized how big of an idiot he really is. On top of Deanna's ruined reputation, she is living in a battle zone where her brother, who got his girlfriend pregnant, are living in the basement and their mother is in complete denial about the dysfunction and their father is not helping the situation by making hurtful comments. Moreover, Deanna is also having a hard dealing with the fact the her friend, Lee, is dating her best friend, Jason, because (to Deanna) the one person she could always have to herself is with another. Deanna constantly feels like the third-wheel and wishes she could fade into the background, but, after getting the job at Picasso's and seeing Tommy again, she is faced with a dilemma: let everything  continue as they are or confront the people who have hurt her the most. What Deanna does not see is her true self, which is a loving, powerful, and dependable, loved young lady. Sure she made mistakes in the past, but no one is perfect and forgiveness is what will set us free so we can live our lives in peace. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to see themselves in Deanna whatever their circumstances.
Information about the Author:
According to her website:
Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of five novels for young adults, most recently The Lucy Variations, which the New York Times called “an elegant novel.” Her sixth, a collaborative novel with Tara Altebrando, came out December 2013. She’s a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner. Her books have been variously named to annual best books lists of the American Library Association, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, the Guardian, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library and Los Angeles Public Library, and have been translated into many languages. In 2010, she served as a judge for the National Book Award. She has written essays and creative nonfiction for ImageHunger Mountain online, and Response as well as for several anthologies, and has been a regular contributor to Image‘s daily Good Letters blog on faith, life, and culture. As of summer 2013, she’s a member of the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Sara also hosts the This Creative Life podcast. She is the current Salt Lake City Literary Death Match Champion. Born in Cleveland and raised in San Francisco, she currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at

Teen Contemporary Fiction, Teen Hi/Lo Fiction

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Story of a Girl:

Awards & Recognition:
  • National Nook Award Finalist (2007)
  • Starred Review from School Library Journal
  • Starred Review from Booklist

"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."
SLJ, starred review

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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