When I tell people that I blog about YA Fiction, they tell me that I MUST read Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr. So, I did.
When Deanna Lambert was 13 years old, she was caught having sex with seventeen-year-old Tommy Webber in the backseat of his car.
Her father won't even look at her and rarely talks to her.
She's labeled the school "slut."
Unfortunately, in small towns, gossip doesn't fade away and labels don't disappear. Now 16, Deanna is still struggling to shake the stigma.
She gets a summer job at a local pizza place where, unbeknownst to her, Tommy works. Being in close proximity to him causes memories and feelings to come flooding back, allowing readers to learn more about what happened between them.
The reader learns even more about Deanna through her relationship with her family and friends.
Her brother Darren, who lives in the Lambert's basement with his girlfriend and baby, is Deanna's saving grace. They have a great brother-sister relationship, and Deanna often fantasizes about the four of them moving out, living in an apartment together, and having a happy homelife,
She also has two best friends--Lee and Jason (a couple)--that accept her for who she is and don't pay attention to gossip and labels. Unfortunately, a moment of weakness and jealousy almost sabotages everything.
All of her relationships illustrate the core of Deanna's problems--she just wants to feel like she belongs somewhere, that someone wants and needs her.
Zarr, as always, created realistic characters and captured the struggle to find out who we really are. Deanna's journey was heartbreaking, but watching her forgive, overcome obstacles, and strive for normalcy left me feeling hopeful and inspired.