Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr Book Review

Story of a Girl by Sara ZarrSTORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr Book Review
Publication Date: January 10th 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Poor

Book Summary: 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.

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr Book Review Overview:

  • Enjoyed the protagonist’s angsty voice
  • Abrupt and unresolved ending
  • Ending ruined my perception of the novel

STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr is just one of those books that have been sitting on my library wish list for ages. I finally decided to check it out, since I have enjoyed Zarr’s books in the past.

Three years later and Deanna Lambert cannot escape the night when she was caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother’s best friend. The rumors follow her all around her small California town, and her dad still can’t look her in the eye. Deanna struggles to overcome her reputation of the “school slut” and strives for an escape from her past in STORY OF A GIRL.

Initially, I really enjoyed STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr. It was really easy to empathize with Deanna. Her voice is really angsty, but she has reason to be. Despite the fact that it happened when she was thirteen, people cannot seem to let it go. The rumor mill blew the situation out of proportion, and there is nothing that she could do to alter it. Deanna continues to be the victim of slut shaming – even though she hasn’t dated a boy since Tommy.

I found the family dynamics of the book to be interesting. Deanna remembers having a great relationship with her dad growing up, but ever since he caught her in the car with Tommy, he won’t even hold a conversation with her. In contrast to Deanna, her brother has also “failed” in their father’s eyes by becoming a teen parent. Deanna’s older brother lives with his girlfriend and newborn baby in the basement of their parents’ house. Deanna dreams of moving out with her brother and his new family and she thinks that she will save enough money if she works a summer job. But Deanna realizes that her brother’s relationship is not as perfect as she might think.

My problem with the book is its abrupt ending. I was initially confused when I turned the page to find the Acknowledgements. It took me a few seconds to realize that the book was over. Where were the last 50 pages?? To me, Deanna was right in the middle of her character growth. I believed her when she said that she forgave Tommy for spreading the rumors, but I didn’t think that Deanna actually moved on.

Another qualm I have with this book after much thought is the fact that Deanna never becomes quite comfortable with her sexuality. As a growing woman, Deanna was basically scarred for life after years of her peers tormenting and labeling her as a slut or a whore. Somewhere towards the end, the point was made that the boys who are harassing Deanna are wrong. But Deanna never comes to the realization that hey, it is okay for a girl to like sex, too. She is sixteen now, and she should be able to embrace her sexuality without fear of being called names.

Overall, while things in her life were slightly improving, I didn’t feel like the problems in STORY OF A GIRL were actually resolved. Her relationship with her friends was still rocky, and her home situation is awkward at best. The resolution of the book was very weak, and to me, it really feels as if the ending was chopped off.

It’s disappointing when the ending of a book alters my whole perception of the novel. I had been enjoying STORY OF A GIRL up until the ending.


  1. YES. That’s exactly how I felt when I read this book so many years ago. I really liked the story, Deanna and how it was starting to get better but then the book was over. It was so abrupt and not satisfying at all :(

    1. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who felt this way!

      I think that the NBA Finalist sticker on the cover just really got my hopes up with this one. :(

      1. I don’t pay attention to that kind of thing although maybe I should. I seem to gravitate towards books that end up winning awards lol. But yes, this story had so much going for it that I was honestly upset with that ending. THAT THING WITH HER TWO FRIENDS… Completely side swept. :/

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