Story of a Girl Book Poster Image

Story of a Girl



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

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."

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

This review of Story of a Girl was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... January 22, 2010

perfect for just teens 13-19 READ IT!!!!!!

i love it because this can happen to any girl/boy and its teaching you that if you forgive nothing bad will happen just postive things.I wish that they make more books that are like this one i LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!=]
What other families should know
Educational value
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
Teen, 16 years old Written bybieber_fever55 July 24, 2010

A Must-Read For Teens.

I thought this book was pretty good, and it didn't go into detail of sexual encounters. Another thing I'm sick of is this site saying there was drug refrences... there was one minor one, and same with the cursing. It is only used a few times. Although ONE flaw of the book is it is kind of depressing. The whole middle of the story was really sad and Deanna is kind of in a slump.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages