I finished two great books today. Not only that, but I actually have time to review them both.
Story of a Girl by Sarah Zarr- WOW. First of all, the voice in this novel was breathtaking. I felt like I knew Deanna. While I wasn’t Deanna, I know too many girls who were her in high school. I also see too many students each year who are in danger of becoming her.
Deanna made one mistake. One stupid mistake when she was thirteen. But it was a big one- her father caught her in the backseat of her brother’s best friend’s car. With him. Since then, her decision has been the talk of her small-town of Pacifica, Ca. Her father hasn’t spoken more than two words to her or looked her in the eye since that day. Her brother got his girlfriend knocked up in the next few years. Her mother spends the little time she isn’t working pretending that their family is fine. And now, Deanna is employed by the most run-down, ramshackle pizza joint in town. And her esteemed co-worker? Only Tommy, the very mistake she made those years ago.
I could not put this book down. Sarah Zarr captures high school perfectly. Deanna is everygirl- she isn’t the most popular, her family is far from perfect, and she isn’t the slut she is made out to be over the town grapevine. All she wants to do is move on. Will her father forgive her? Will she ever escape Pacifica? I can’t recommend this novel enough! I put it right next to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak on my list of must-read teen girl reads.
I also finished Gail Giles’ What Happened to Cass McBride?. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight, thanks to this haunting story. If I taught high school, I would jump at the chance to use this novel in a bullying unit.
I know my students will love this book. The plot centers on the recent suicide of David Kirby. One night, after a negative encounter at school, David Kirby hangs himself from his tree in his front yard. He pins to his chest (not his shirt. His chest). the following note:
Words are teeth. And they eat me alive.
This act leads to event after event. David’s brother, Kyle is driven to an act of psychotic desperation and kidnaps the popular girl, Cass McBride, who rejected his brother. He not only kidnaps her, but proceeds to torture her by burying her alive.
The story is told through the eyes of various characters- Kyle Kirby, Cass McBride, and the investigating detectives.
This is a powerful story. It explores the themes of abuse, bullying, power, and the power our words have over others. Kyle, David, and Cass have all been damaged by the adults in their lives. In a trickledown effect, their words deeply affect those around them. Sadly, they don’t realize the power their words have on those who pass through their lives.
I love shows like Law and Order and Law and Order: SVU. In my opinion, the most horrifying stories are those that are true. This story will chill you to the bone. Why? Because it is so real. You feel like it can happen. Like it is happening around you.
Two fantastic books in one day!! It’s been a good day.