Young Adult Lit/Crit

April 6, 2008

Story of a Girl

Filed under: STORY OF A GIRL — katefrazer @ 9:54 am

There were some things I liked about Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, but overall, the book didn’t really grab my attention.  I’m very interested to hear what others have to say.  I did like Deanna as a main character and I feel bad for her, mostly because of parents.   However, the story itself is where I want to bring up some thoughts.  As was said in class, this book has a very generic title because this is something that has been happening for years and will continue.  Girls get caught with boys and then the story gets around-it’s nothing new.  I had a hard time setting Story of a Girl apart from other stories of this nature.  Did other people feel this way, or did you see something that made it original and more meaningful to you? 

Michael, Deanna’s boss, stood out to me.  We have talked about the positive adults we kept seeing in Chris Crutcher’s novels, and in some ways I think Michael is filling this role for Deanna.  He does nothing to the extent of the teachers, librarians, etc, in Crutcher’s novels, but he does seem to care about Deanna and is supportive and willing to listen to her.  Do you see Michael as a postive adult force in her life, or just another boss? 

I was pleased with the hopeful note the book left on, specifically with Lee’s ability to forgive Deanna.  That seemed pretty realistic and really showed that she does have people that care about her and not about her past. 



  1. Hi Kate, thanks for getting us started talking about STORY. I really liked this book–I think Zarr gets it just right–the tone, characterization, quiet “redemption” for several characters. I agree that this is an age – old story.

    We’re reading two books on this theme for this week aren’t we? But this one for me feels especially accurate in the way Zarr handles the sexual experience and the aftermath. I also think she does a beautiful job with the father/daughter relationship–or lack of. And I like the journal/poetry Deanna is writing as comment on her isolation and loneliness. I can see why it was a National Book Award nominee. And it would surprise me to see a teen put this down as Jon described last week. That’s interesting. I read it at one sitting and couldn’t put it down. KES

    Kate, do sign your posts and use or create new categories.

    Comment by sunyprof — April 6, 2008 @ 10:18 am

  2. All of the stories that we are reading for next week are pulling at my heart strings!! (I have a very soft spot for loners and those who get picked on. It breaks my heart.) Reading STORY OF A GIRL brought back many memories of my high school days. I remember all the rumors that floated around, some circulating much longer than others. And I always had to wonder…what’s true and what’s not and how much have these “truths” gotten distorted. I think it is often incredibly hard to be objective when in high school and thus, everyone ends up judging everyone else.

    Despite all the rumors at Deanna’s school and the issues with her peers, I was also most struck by the family relations in this story, as Kate mentioned. I think this is because in my experiences in high school, rumors didn’t simply float around about ONE particular person, like in this story the entire school community is obsessed with the Deanna/Tommy gossip. In my school, rumors were about everyone, so it was really hard to be the sole target like Deanna was. Aside from cruel lies, disappointing one’s parents is one of the worst experiences, and I know first hand. I think it is inevitable that at some point during adolescence, everyone will let their parents down, but that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier. I really could relate to the situation between Deanna and her Dad, and the way Zarr writes about it is very real and honest, which I think teens will definitely appreciate.


    Comment by mandygrl101 — April 6, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

  3. I’m glad you brought up the issues of rumors focusing on one person in the school, Mandy. My own experiences with high school and with my kids now is that there are always all kinds of rumors spreading around, and no matter how big one is for a few hours, days, or weeks, there is always something new ready to replace it. I wondered as I read the novel if maybe this is because I’ve never attended or worked in a really small school, but I think it must be similar everywhere. However, I do feel that no matter how long an individual is the topic or rumor around a school, it is a terrible thing to experience.

    Comment by katefrazer — April 6, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  4. I think people would have moved on after 3 years. There would still be some losers who would bring it up, like the losers in the story who actually do, but I think Kate’s right, new stuff is always going on that would replace it. I don’t think the author provides enough information about the school environment to give us any idea of where Deanna is coming from. It’s a smaller town though, and I’m sure the rumors get around, it just seems ridiculous that Deanna’s story would still be the hot topic three years after the fact. Also, I really don’t think that the school was obsessed with the Deanna/Tommy story, I think Deanna was obsessed with the Deanna/Tommy story, and she let this consume her so that she became a complete introvert, alienating herself from her family and friends. The fling with Tommy and the ridicule must have been a terrible experience, but dwelling on it the way Deanna does is even worse, and makes for an overall uninteresting, and kind of annoying read.


    Comment by traverse02 — April 7, 2008 @ 11:21 am

  5. Great discussion – so much to respond to.

    First, the father-daughter/parental disappointment storyline is also familiar to me. I can remember that wordless tension between my parents. I imagine them thinking, “Who are you? What’s wrong? What can we do? What’s happening?” But saying nothing. I can also remember plenty of times when they tried to talk to me, and I remained stonily silent. It’s hard being a teenager and it’s hard being the parent of a teenager.

    Second, as far Raph’s interpretation that Deanna is obsessed with something that the rest of the school has gotten over, I disagree. I think the scene close to the end with Deanna and Jason in the mall during which Bruce Cowell says, “‘I guess this is a self-serve thing,’ and he put[s] his ahdn between my legs from behind” (139), shows that Deanna’s reputation is still very much alive. Further, Deanna’s father’s reaction to Michael giving her a ride home from work shows that her father has not forgotten (or forgiven) what happened three years ago.


    Comment by sostrom — April 8, 2008 @ 10:16 pm

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