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Scars Paperback – May 31, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 273 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Fifteen-year-old Kendra is being stalked by someone who wants her dead, and she is overwhelmed by the compulsion to cut herself. She is dealing with shadowy memories of sexual abuse from her early childhood and wonders why she cannot recall her rapist's face. Kendra is a tough, vulnerable, troubled teen, a survivor who will win readers' hearts as she struggles to deal with her life. While her biggest challenges may be extreme, there is much that any teen can relate to: frustration with a clueless mother, delight as her friendship with Meghan grows into love, and the struggle for identity and self-knowledge. Watching, guiding, and caring for this emerging young woman are three adults who offer emotional support rather than answers: a gay mentor, a therapist, and a teacher who knows true artistic talent when she sees it. Particularly well written are the scenes with Kendra's therapist; there's no miracle working here, just the long hard slog through pain and uncertainty. And when the revelation comes, there is no cardboard villain in the shadows, but rather a complex person whose cruelties and self-deceptions are believable and deeply sad. The excellent resource section covers widely respected books, Web sites, organizations, and help lines for youth seeking information on extreme abuse, cutting, same-sex attraction, and dissociation. This book will be a particular comfort and source of insight for teens facing any of these challenges, but whatever their life experience, they will be on the edge of their seats, rooting for Kendra to unravel the mystery that shadows her life. This is one heck of a good book!—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The scars that crisscross 15-year-old Kendra’s arms are not for public consumption. Her cutting is kept secret from her parents, her friends, and even her beloved therapist. But things change when she meets Meghan, a classmate whose promiscuity with boys belies her budding romantic interest in Kendra. Like other books and movies on this topic, Kendra’s story isn’t really about cutting—she was sexually abused between the ages of 2 and 12, and the resulting trauma has blocked out her rapist’s identity. What sets Rainfield’s story apart is the stalking element: her rapist is still hounding her, giving her frightening reminders that she will be killed if she tells anyone the truth. Sophisticated readers may very well roll their eyes at melodramatic clichés (“It’s only my utility knife that releases the screams inside me”) but that same sense of overwhelming emotion might appeal to teens wrestling with similar issues. The book becomes most enjoyable near the end, when it makes an implausible hairpin turn into the realm of psychothriller. Rainfield’s closing research guide is unusually extensive. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: WestSide Books (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934813575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934813577
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (273 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't hide the fact that I'm a rape victim - or that I used to be a self-mutilator (still am, depending on who you are and how you define SM - I cope now with tattoos and body piercing because it's safer than slashing up my arms or legs and it allows me to take something that makes me feel awful and turn it into art, but that doesn't always sit well with everyone else. Truth be told, I stopped cutting because I found out that one of my friends cut as well - and he scared me into turning the situation into something that really did help me cope without risking my life).

I don't talk about it very often because I have problems discussing these topics, but I do read a lot of writing about both subjects. And, very often, I find that the fictional books aren't very realistic. They try to gloss over the bad parts and make everything hunky-dory at the end. Not so with this book. The author doesn't gloss over the pain and, while things do end on a more positive note, I wasn't given the impression that Kendra's life will just be A-okay now. She still has problems on the road ahead of her. She still has good days and bad days, but she's going to get through them because she's a survivor. And I love that ending because it gives hope to people like me. So I have to give the author kudos - she did something very rare and I hope this book helps other kids who find themselves in a similar situation.

Too often, the people around me have a hard time understanding what I'm going through - from now on, I'll recommend this book to them and let it show them.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book I read in a day and then took two days to digest. I highly recommend it. That said, this is a book about prolonged sexual abuse and self-injury, in addition to being a book about a girl whose mother is not happy about her daughter's new girlfriend. It is not for everyone, but it will undoubtedly be really important for more than a few someones.

Throughout the course of the book, the bulk of which spans what feels like only a week, Kendra relives her abuse, through flashbacks that hit her out of (almost) nowhere and with her therapist, as she tries to remember the identity of her abuser. She also cuts herself, repeatedly, to cope with the pain and the panic that these memories bring on. Rainfield portrays all of this realistically and sensitively. She lets us inside Kendra's head to see her pain, shame, insecurities, fear and more. More importantly, she shows how much Kendra appreciates and depends on those who support her, even if Kendra doesn't always show it herself. It is Kendra's chosen family, her therapist, her art teacher, her mentor, and her girlfriend, that make it possible for her to face her abuse and ultimately her abuser.

There were some moments in the book when the dialog seemed less than authentic. Using Carolyn, Kendra's therapist, Rainfield can realistically work phrases like "you're not the one who deserves to be hurt, Kendra. He is," into a conversation about Kendra's self-injury. Instead when Meghan, Kendra's girlfriend of a day, says it, it can be a bit jarring (139)*. However, it is the right things to say and important for readers to, well, read. While the few exchanges like this between Kendra and Meghan pulled me momentarily out of the story, they are easily outweighed by the cute wow-you're-pretty moments that these two more often share.
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By James F. Booth on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book was so haunting, raw, emotional, yet still filled with hope; Rainfield did a great job balancing all the emotions in Kendra's story. What I also really loved about this book is how it treats the lesbian aspect- it's definitely there, but it's not at the forefront or anything and a big deal isn't made about it when it does come up. Kendra already knows and has accepted that she's lesbian; yes, there is the requisite parental blowup about it but it's handled well in the scene where she comes out and they work toward accepting their daughter.

Anyway, the main focus here is Kendra's sexual abuse when she was younger and the cutting she does now to help with the pain and trauma as a result of that abuse. She has no idea who her abuser was, but as the book goes on, more memories come to light and we see the finger being pointed in several directions. It's a hard mystery to solve, and the last 50 pages were read in one big gulp because the climax and reveal were so compelling. I was honestly really shocked at who the abuser turned out to be.

The romance in the book was handled really well too. It starts off with them being friends and growing closer with each interaction and the secrets they let each other in on. I thought Kendra and Meghan made such a cute couple and I loved the scenes they had together. I also loved seeing Kendra's neighbor Sandy, a gay man, and their interactions, as well as those that involved Emil, Sandy's boyfriend. It was nice to see that she had that kind of support system outside of her family, due to her mom being a bit of a bitch and her dad being barely home.

Overall, this was a great, powerful book that featured a compelling, haunting yet hopeful story and some well-written, fleshed out characters. I did have a small complaint (though I guess it's really more of a thought than complaint) about it but it's pretty spoiler-y so if you want to discuss it with me, send me an email.
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