When Deanna was 13, her father caught her having sex with her older brother’s best friend, 17-year-old Tommy. Two years later, her father still can’t look her in the eye or have a conversation with her. Tommy is the only boy she’s ever been with, but she still starts high school with the reputation of school slut, a reputation that will never leave her. Deanna’s only way of dealing with her thoughts and emotions is to write in her notebook about an anonymous girl on a beach.
As the story unfolds, we get Deanna’s side of it too. Her home life isn’t perfect, then or now. Her father lost his job several years ago and has since been working at a “temp” job that has lasted years. And since the incident, he assumes she’ll sleep with any guy who glances her way. Her mother works long hours, and while she tries to bring her family together, her attempts are unsuccessful. Deanna does have a close relationship with her older brother, but he’s got problems of his own. He and his girlfriend are living in her parents’ basement with their baby while juggling jobs and childcare that makes it so they never see each other. Deanna dreams of getting a summer job and, at the end of the summer, being able to hand over all the money to her brother and his girlfriend so the three of them can get an apartment of their own with the baby, anything to get out of her parents’ house.
I enjoyed this book, even if it is a sad story about how one wrong choice can define a person, and how it affects that person’s sense of self-worth. But while the story is sad, Deanna progresses and gains insight that helps her start setting things in motion for a better future for herself and better relationships with those around her. This is a very realistic story, and Deanna’s character is a especially real character with very strong emotions that carry the story.
Rated: High, for several uses of strong language and perhaps about a dozen uses of moderate language, some detailed sexual content and references, some teen drug use, and overall harshness.