Coming from a high school senior, I have seen it all. Between drugs, alcohol, and relationships, it is easy to get lost in the haze. Sara Zarr does a top-notch job of depicting exactly what it would be like to be a student who makes a wrongful decision and in the end regrets it. Deanna Lambert was originally a student who never misbehaved, she was average. Then one night, she stepped outside of her boundaries and got “frisky” in the backseat of a Buick with a guy named Tommy.
This instantly made her lose the trust of her father. As someone who has done something to lose her father’s trust, I can relate and assure any future readers that Sara Zarr does an excellent job of portraying just how difficult it is to live your high school life with a lack of trust. The book does get slightly dramatic when everything in her life just starts going downhill. However, the message is brilliant, showcasing similarly-aged readers the true repercussions of doing things that aren’t deemed as “naturally appropriate”. For starters, as I mentioned before, her father could not look at her the same way. He practically hated her, they barely spoke and he wouldn’t trust her to go anywhere, their relationship was completely ruined.
Another aspect I noticed in this book is the portrayal of drugs, like marijuana. Just like in stereotypical high school movies, marijuana is used at countless parties. Although I can’t even stand the smell of it, let alone smoke it, others enjoy it. In the book, students love smoking it because they get put into a new “state” just like they do in society today! Deanna was tired of being surrounded by negativity, like her father, drugs, and Tommy, so she decided to get a job so that she can save up enough money to eventually flee her home life. To her despair, she ends up working with Tommy in a restaurant. That only fuels her desire to leave even more. This book does more than just influencing teens to make the right decisions with sexual relations, but it also makes them consider every other action in the future and what could possibly result in it. One decision you make could impact the rest of your life negatively. Sara Zarr did an incredible job of grabbing reader’s’ attention of all ages by incorporating not only relatable experiences of teens but also potential connections of parents. How would they respond if their child did something like this?
Zarr also did an incredible job of depicting a clear theme, forgiveness. Forgiveness and need of are shown throughout the story in relationships between Deanna and her father, her friends, and Tommy. She hates Tommy more than anything throughout this story, however, by the end of the story, she finds forgiveness in her heart as she begins to mature and ultimately separate the major and minor defaults. Not only that, but her relationship with her father begins to improve as well. Working at the restaurant, as mentioned earlier, she raised money to move out and in with Darren. However, as she begins to reconcile with her father, he offers to help her purchase a new car with that money! The cliffhanger at the end is an incredible twist of events. It makes the reader wanting to know what will happen within the upcoming school year with Lee and Jason, but the story came to an end. I may just end up looking for the second book (if there is one) in order to find out what happens next and put my eager angst at rest.
Reviewed by Emily Folmer