Story of a Girl

Common Sense Media says

Coming-of-age story about girl who had sex at 13.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

This book has coming-of-age themes, plus forgiveness is something all the characters confront in one way or another. 

Positive role models

Deanna learns to deal with a past decision -- and move on with her own life. Her friends are caring, even when she deliberately hurts them.


Deanna knocks down a boy for grabbing her crotch. Her brother beats up another boy.


The story revolves around a girl who, when she was 13, was having sex with a 17-year-old; and her older teen brother, who got a girl pregnant. Nothing is described, but there are many references, as well as to "boobs," sexual harassment, condoms, "the pill," kissing, petting, homosexuality, and oral sex (very obliquely).


Some swearing, including "s--t" and "f--k," and the finger.


Many stores and fast food restaurants mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teen characters smoke (tobacco and marijuana) and drink.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a book about a teen who had sex when she was 13. There are no descriptions of sex, but many sexual references. Teens also smoke, including marijuana. There is quite a lot of profanity, including "f--k."

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When she was 13, Deanna had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy, Tommy, which was ended by her father who caught them in the act. Now it's the summer between her sophomore and junior years, and she is still dealing with the repercussions: Her father can't look at her and seems to hate her, and Tommy's stories have made most of the high schoolers in her small town think she is nothing but a slut.

Hoping to make enough money to move out, Deanna takes a job at a local pizza place, even though Tommy works there too. Meanwhile she is dealing with her brother, who has become a teen father; his girlfriend, who takes off, leaving them with the baby; and her changing feelings about her only two remaining friends.

Is it any good?


The feelings and motivations of all of the characters, but especially of Deanna, are subtle and complex here in a way that most young adult novels aren't. For instance, Deanna is repelled by Tommy, angry at him, contemptuous, a bit frightened, and yet still attracted to him. Tommy himself is a lout, but not evil, and with complex feelings of his own. Every character and every relationship gives the reader much to recognize and think about.

The theme of forgiveness is similarly subtle and complex here -- this is not an author to hit the reader over the head with The Point. Forgiveness is something all the characters confront in one way or another, and those who can manage it do it for themselves more than for others. It becomes an act of survival, not sainthood.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the role of forgiveness in the story. Who needs to forgive -- and who needs to be forgiven? 

  • This book deals with a teen who has sex at a young age. Why does she decide to make that choice? Do the repercussions she faces feel authentic? Parents may want to use this opportunity to discuss their own attitudes about teen relationships and sex. Common Sense Media's Too Sexy Too Soon offers advice for how to help girls develop a healthy self-image.

Book details

Author:Sara Zarr
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:January 10, 2007
Number of pages:192
Read aloud:14
Read alone:14

This review of Story of a Girl was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byxx1214babyyxx September 6, 2009
I am 16 years old right now, but i was 13 when i read the book, and i LOVE it. What you need to know is, this book is NOT just about some girl that had sex when she was 13. Its about more than that. The story takes place when she was 16, and she has to live with all the bad decisions she has made, and tries to figure out how to make her life better, and i think that she succeeded very much. This book is very emotional and is and will always be one of my very favorites.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bypoohbear1994 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Know Your Child

this book was really good. but i'm 14. so i wouldn't recommend this book for an 11 year old unless they know what they are talking about or they will be really lost. i thought it was a really good book b/c it was told from a girl who was having sex at 13 and she was called names all throughout high school. it shows teens that waiting to have sex is really a good thing.
Teen, 16 years old Written byGoGetit October 13, 2009
This boook was amazing and had such a strong message. Most people don't understand what most young girls go through and are exposed too. EVERYONE talks about sex even elementary kids. I don't know if anyone agrees but it sounded like Stacey was doing something illegal on her little "trip". This book is outstanding and i encourage parents and teens to read the book. It has a very gripping, on edge climax. Hope you enjoy!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages


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