TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Right at the beginning of "Story of a Girl," we find out that the main character and narrator, Deanna Lambert, has a reputation in Pacifica, California as the school slut. Turns out that several years earlier, Deanna's dad caught her and a senior guy named Tommy Webber having sex in Tommy's car. The twist? Deanna was in the eighth grade at the time, and Tommy was the only boy she's ever been with, before or since. Still, her peers and classmates treat Deanna like a punching bag, teasing her in incredibly vicious and hurtful ways to the point where she's basically an outcast. As Deanna enters the summer following her sophomore year of high school, she has just two friends — Lee, a sweet, religious girl, and Jason, a longtime pal whom Deanna has come to look at as possibly more than a friend. The main problem? Lee and Jason are a couple.
Meanwhile, Deanna's home life is a complete mess. Her dad has never recovered from the shock of finding her with Tommy, and his response has been to essentially ignore Deanna for years. Deanna's mom works long hours at a department store to help make ends meet, and her beloved older brother, early 20-ish Darren, is living in the family's basement with his infant daughter April and girlfriend Stacey. Needless to say, Deanna's father is not happy about this living arrangement.
Author Sara Zarr follows Deanna's story through that one long summer, as Deanna takes a job at a local pizza parlor only to find that Tommy works there, too. Over those summer months, Deanna learns a lot about redemption and forgiveness, as she hurts her friends, watches Darren and Stacey's relationship self destruct, confronts Tommy, and finally speaks up about her dad's icy behavior. Although nothing truly unpredictable happens here, the story is nicely, almost gently told, the characters generally act in believable, imperfect ways, and it doesn't feel like one of those awful books with a heavy lesson to teach. Plus, it's great for the reader to see Deanna start to regain some of her old spark, since she's such a compelling, fully drawn character.
While the storyline here is a bit mature, there are no graphic scenes and little foul language. Truly, the story revolves more around the aftermath of Deanna's mistake, and how hard it is to repair both damaged self-esteem and damaged relationships. Definitely recommended for teen girls.