The story begins:
I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy’s Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montara at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday night. Tommy was seventeen and the supposed friend of my brother, Darran.
I didn’t love him.
I’m not sure I even liked him.
We’ve all done things we regret but most of us are fortunate enough to keep our indiscretions private. Deanna Lambert isn’t so fortunate. When Deanna’s dad catches them in the backseat, Tommy doesn’t keep his mouth shut but broadcasts the story to the high school population. Deanna is labeled at school but even more painfully, at home where her dad hasn’t really spoken to her in the almost three years since catching her in the Buick.
With perfect pacing, Sara Zarr reveals bits and pieces of the pain Deanna feels during the summer after her sophomore year. Deanna explores her version of events – not Tommy’s, not her father’s, not the stupid boys’ at school – but her own version of why she got into that Buick with Tommy, and as she comes to a greater understanding of the circumstances, begins to see herself, and Tommy, in a different light.
From page 125: It was both sad and funny, you know, how two people’s memory of the same thing could be so different. And that was the whole problem, really, that this thing had happened between us, and to Tommy it was one thing and to me it was something else, and once my dad got involved it became something else again. Three people at the scene of the crime, each with a different story. Add onto that the whole jury known as Terra Nova High School and who knew anymore what had really happened?
This is a powerful story of forgiveness and redemption, and not just Deanna’s redemption. Every single character is real and has a story of her/his own. I was blown away by this book, literally gasping aloud when reading a particularly exquisite sentence. After I finished STORY OF A GIRL, I read it again (jotting down page numbers and sentence references because the writing is that good). Then I bought my own copy.
I don’t know what else to say except Deanna could be me or you or someone you know. Her story is unique but in Sara Zarr’s capable hands, Deanna’s pain and struggle are universal.