Story of a Girl – Sara Zarr

Date read: 22nd August 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Length: 192 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Tommy leaned on the cash register and watched me. “You’re not even going to say hi to me, Dee Dee?”

His voice shot through me. It’s amazing, the things your body will do just when you don’t want them to: heart speeding up, fingers aching. I’d always liked his voice, low and laid-back, the kind of voice that made you listen, a voice that still caused me to teeter when I heard it saying my old nickname.

2013 is most definitely destined to go down in my personal history as ‘The Year Hannah Rediscovered The Library’.

It sounds stupid, really. Many of my happiest childhood memories revolve around my grandma taking me to the library, back in the days when you could only take out six books at a time. My library card had a light pink strip at the top, my grandma and grandad’s cards had a custard-yellow strip, and the library had an amazing smell (which is still has today, FYI, despite its recent renovations) of books and amazingness.

But then, when I was about 14, I forgot to take books back, and let my membership lapse, until I was in my mid-twenties, desperately saving to escape and travel the world, and yet unwilling to let the pleasures of new books disappear. So, I re-registered at the library and made full use of it until I left.

In the years between then and now I’ve borrowed a few books, but it wasn’t until my Amazon wish-list suddenly became out of control that a lightbulb went off above my head, and I suddenly decided that I should search the library database to see if I could reserve some of the books on my list to save me money.

The library service in my county is linked to four others, which covers most of the south-west of England = much potential.

Hence, my reading Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr.

I’ve read Sweethearts by the same author before, and was left heartbroken and yet slightly uplifted by the ambiguous ending. Her writing isn’t flowery or overly-descriptive – but yet Zarr leaves you with a very definite feeling of unsettling doom, of times of change, and of the lack of hope that Deanna feels, especially when her long-cherished plans fall apart and she can’t see any way out of the no-hope town – or, for that matter, situation – that she’s in.

The basic premise is that she was caught by her father fooling around with her brother’s friend in the back of a car. She was 13 and the guy – Tommy – was 17. Since then, she’s never been allowed to forget it, either by her father, whom she adored, or her fellow schoolmates. But over the course of the summer between her sophomore and junior year, she takes a job at a dead-end pizza restaurant, where Tommy happens to work.

I love how other themes invade the book slowly yet surely – whether Deanna loves her best friend Jason enough to displace her newer friend – and Jason’s girlfriend – Lee. Whether her brother Darren and sister-in-law Stacy can cope with being new parents in a far from ideal situation. Whether Deanna’s father can forgive her for what happened so long ago and pull himself out of his depression.

Nothing is wrapped up neatly at the end – it feels as though we’ve left all the characters right at the start of their new beginning, but there’s no promise of happily ever after. And that’s so refreshing to find, even though I was wishing and hoping for it – life doesn’t suddenly provide resolutions to everything difficult all at once, we have to work for it, and hope that things fit into place one by one.

I’m really looking forward to reading The Lucy Variations once I can get hold of a copy – here’s hoping the library gets one soon…

Rating: 8/10

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