Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trojan Horse Book Review: Story of a Girl

Before I do the review, I think I should briefly re-explain what a Trojan Horse Review is since it has been so long since our last one (thank goodness for that!). The Greeks left the Trojans a gift, a great wooden horse. Inside, Greek soldiers waited to spring a deadly trap upon the Trojans and completely destroy their city. A Trojan Horse Review is a review of one of those books/movies/albums/other that comes highly recommended, disguised as something good, and is nearly deadly. Due to the deadly nature of these materials, the author of the post may, on moral grounds, not be as detailed in the review as usual. While the main and major problems will be listed, smaller ones may not be mentioned or noticed by the post author due to a skimming of the material.


Title: Story of a Girl
Author: Sara Zarr
Genre: Romance,
My Rating: -**** (yes, that is a negative rating)
Official Rating: Teen Fiction
Age Group: 18+ (or, more appropriately, not at all)
The Horse: National Book Award Finalist, insinuation that a problem will be addressed/resolved when it is not dealt with
Deanna's father caught her with Tommy when she was thirteen. Tommy was a senior in highschool. In such a small town, everyone knows the story, and Deanna just wants to escape it. On top of that, her own family has rejected her. Her father has not spoken to her since the day he found the two and her mother isn't all that motherly. Her brother and his girlfriend seem to be the only ones who still love Deanna, but they've got a baby to deal with. As if that's not enough, Deanna has fallen for her best friend--who is dating someone else.
What's a girl to do?

Word of Warning
Where to start? There's far too much in this book to all be mentioned in a post like this, particularly because with such a big moral problem as the center of the book (which is not dealt with by the end), I did not read for the little details.
  • Deanna and Tommy did drugs and smoked who-knows-what. We're well aware that their relationship was sexual and only that, even getting a few descriptions (nothing very graphic, but still way too much). As for what happened, suffice it to say that they went "too far" and after a doctor checked Deanna, her mother rushed her to the store and bought her a box of condoms.
  • Deanna's brother and his girlfriend have a baby.
  • All sorts of sexual jokes are made. People mention "boobs" and one guy grabs Deanna's bottom while she is out in public.
  • Deanna doesn't seem to really regret her relationship with Tommy for any good reasons. Her reputation in her town is completely destroyed and people do not respect her anymore. She doesn't regret losing her virginity or the drugs or the smoking or anything else. She knows Tommy used her and is angry with him, but also willing to forgive him. She even lets him drive her home from work.
  • Tommy doesn't regret it either. In fact, he's happy to try again. He almost succeeds, but Deanna stops him and yells at him.
  • Deanna and her childhood friend hang out at his house in his bedroom with no supervision. Nothing happens, but the situation is not a safe one. He even offers to let her spend the night, but she doesn't because her dad would be angry.
  • Deanna's boss is gay.
  • Deanna's dad suggests that she's in a sexual relationship with her boss. Angry at him for always expecting the worst of her, she yells at him and says he's right. Then she assures him that he's wrong.
  • Deanna and her childhood friend discuss kissing and he tells her that guys wonder what it would be like to kiss all girls, even teachers (but only the hot ones).
  • On a day designated as having to do with sexual abstinence, a girl and her boyfriend are caught taking it too far. They're proud of being caught on that particular day and boast about it. The whole school seems to think of it as a funny joke.
  • Deanna kisses her childhood friend even though she is well aware that he is dating another girl (Deanna's friend).
  • The writing style is awful.
  • Deanna may have depression.
  • Many many other problems.
If the main problem (Deanna's loss of virginity at age thirteen and the consequences of that) had been dealt with, the book might be appropriate for older ages. Maybe. But it's left hanging. Are we really supposed to be satisfied with the fact that Deanna hasn't had sex again simply because she's afraid it'll ruin her reputation? The book is haunted by the unresolved problem, making the reader feel disappointed, lost, confused, and with a negative outlook on life.
For all the bad, there simply was not enough goodness to conquer. In fact, there was almost no goodness at all.

My Thoughts
I picked up the book thinking I'd try something a little on the dangerous side to review for an older audience. I also figured it would be interesting to see this problem resolved. I knew it wouldn't be done satisfactorily, but I expected more than I got.
Because I got nothing. The book dug the hole deeper and deeper, and I was barely into it before I found myself skimming along--and caught by a deadly hook. I have found very few books that I can put down once I start reading, and this book came close to being one of them.
As I reached to pick it up and skim some more, I noticed something. The seal of the National Book Award Finalist on the front cover, next to the face of a girl who looks haunted, sly, and blank all at the same time.
And honestly, I was disgusted. Who judges these things? Even if it came down to the writing style, the book was bad. I wondered, was it a finalist because of the issue it addressed?
Well the issue was never resolved. And that's one of the most dangerous things a book can do.

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