Monday, November 12, 2012

Compared to Latest, Zarr's Debut Feels Stiff, Distant

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

What if one mistake defined you for the rest of your life?  

When 13-year-old Deanna Lambert is caught with a high school boy in the backseat of his car, she earns the unofficial title of "town slut."  Three years later, she still can't shake her reputation—even though she hasn't so much as kissed a guy in the time since her dad yanked 17-year-old Tommy Webber off her.  She could have become a nun and guys would still proposition her in the school hallways.  Deanna can't wait to leave her small California town in the dust, can't wait to ditch the catcalls, the assumptions and, most of all, the constant look of disappointment in her dad's eyes.  There's nothing Deanna craves more than a fresh start.  

Deanna's determined to move out of her parents' house the moment her big brother Darren does.  She'd rather live with him, his girlfriend and their baby than spend another night under the same roof as her shamed father.  But leaving requires money, which requires Deanna to take a crappy job at the same grungy pizza parlor where Tommy Webber works.  As she comes face-to-face with that blast from the past, Deanna will have to work through her own insecurities and fears in order to prove to everyone that she's more than just a label—much, much more.

After falling in love with Sara Zarr's most recent novel, How to Save a Life, I knew I needed to read everything the author's ever written.  Like, now.  I decided to start with Zarr's debut book, Story of a Girl.  Since it was a contender for the 2007 National Book Award, I figured the story must be as good, or better, than How to Save a Life.  Except it really wasn't.  The book's well-written, in that the prose is strong, the characters are real and the plot is compelling enough to keep readers engaged.  And yet, it didn't wow me.  In fact, I found the story anticlimactic and depressing.  Compared to the warmth of How to Save a Life, Story of a Girl feels stiff, distant.  As much as I tried, I just didn't love it.  In fact, it left me torn—should I take a chance on another Zarr book?  Because her writing is so strong overall, I'm voting yes.  So, now the question is: Which of her books should I read next?  Which one is your favorite?

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language, sexual innuendo/content, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

   

2 comments:

  1. I liked this one but I tend to like depressing books best. My absolute favorite is How to Save a Life. Definitely read that one.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed Once Was Lost, but didn't much care for Sweethearts. This is the only one of hers I haven't read yet and now I'm somewhat reluctant to give it a go.

    ReplyDelete

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