Zarr, Sara 1971(?)-
Zarr, Sara 1971(?)-
Born c. 1971, in Cleveland, OH; married. Education: San Francisco State University, B.A., 1994.
Writer. Also worked in the commercial printing industry.
National Book Award, finalist, 2007, for Story of a Girl.
Story of a Girl (novel), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Sweethearts (novel), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2008.
Author of a blog.
Sara Zarr is an American fiction and young adult book writer. Zarr published her debut novel, Story of a Girl, in 2007. The novel was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. The story starts with thirteen-year-old Deanna being caught by her father having sex with seventeen-year-old Tommy. Years later, her father still refuses to look her in the eye, and Tommy successfully cast her as the school slut, despite her not having been with anyone except for him that one time. Deanna finds herself caught in a difficult position when her best friends begin to date each other, her older brother and the mother of his baby (still teens) separate, and she begins working at a pizza parlor with Tommy. Eventually Deanna comes to forgive Tommy for his cruel slandering and seeks to define her life herself and not through the words and views of others.
Stephanie L. Petruso, writing in School Library Journal, described the novel as "realistic fiction at its best." Petruso added that Story of a Girl "is an emotionally charged story, with language appropriate to the intensity of the feelings." Petruso also commented that "Zarr's storytelling is excellent." A contributor to Publishers Weekly described Zarr's debut novel as "involving yet somewhat anticlimactic." The reviewer noted that some "readers may find Deanna's character somewhat contradictory." The reviewer concluded, however, that "Zarr convincingly creates a teen trapped by small-minded people in a small town." Booklist contributor Krista Hutley felt differently, saying that the "characters are well drawn, especially Deanna, whose complicated, deeply felt emotions turn the story." Hutley thought that the story was "a thoughtful, well-executed" one and that Zarr "understands how to write" books for a teenage market. In a Kliatt review, Janis Flint-Ferguson claimed that "this is a gritty story of a girl trying to reclaim herself in a world that has already written her story for her." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews said that "this involving, touching first novel will resonate with those who have made mistakes." The same reviewer observed that the story has both a "hopeful but realistic" ending.
Zarr followed up her debut novel the following year with Sweethearts. Jenna is obsessed with her popular- ity and status among classmates as she strives to move beyond her younger years, when she suffered from being overweight and having a lisp. When longtime childhood friend Cameron moves back into town, Jenna is awestruck, wondering if she can keep up her new persona, why he left in the first place, and what their growing relationship means. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews described the first-person narrative as "convincing." The reviewer noted that a wide variety of contemporary teen issues "find resonance" throughout the story. The reviewer concluded that "Zarr transfixes teen readers with enticing explorations of identity and enduring love."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2007, Krista Hutley, review of Story of a Girl, p. 85.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2007, Karen Coats, review of Story of a Girl, p. 392.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006, review of Story of a Girl, p. 1275; December 15, 2007, review of Sweethearts.
Kliatt, January, 2007, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Story of a Girl, p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, January 29, 2007, review of Story of a Girl, p. 73.
School Library Journal, January, 2007, Stephanie L. Petruso, review of Story of a Girl, p. 143.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2007, Florence H. Munat, review of Story of a Girl, p. 536.
Class of 2k7,http://classof2k7.com/ (January 3, 2008), author profile.
Hachette Book Group Web site,http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/ (January 3, 2008), author interview.
Sara Zarr Home Page,http://www.sarazarr.com (January 3, 2008), author biography.
Sara Zarr MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/sarazarr (January 3, 2008), author profile.