Kendra, fifteen, hasn’t felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can’t remember the most important detail– her abuser’s identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it’s her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who’s becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra’s abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl’s frightening path to the truth (goodreads.com).
When I first picked this book up, I figured it was a thriller, whodunit, a dramatization of a childhood rape. I was definitely wrong. This book is a horrific look into the aftermath of a survivor. I found myself being sucked into Kendra’s world of pushing away the memories, cutting to bleed out the pain, and expressing herself through her art. I wanted to know who did that to her because I became so involved in her story. The relationship with her parents is sad, especially with her parents. At times, I wanted to shake her mother and scream at her to just listen to what Kendra had to say! Her mother tries to help Kendra but doesn’t know what to say. Perhaps, she feels responsible for letting something this awful happen to her daughter.
I must also point out that while this story is graphic, it isn’t a story about rape. It is the story about surviving. Picking up the pieces and moving on when you think you can’t. It is about learning to cope, to not blame, to trust, and to love again. Kendra isn’t a depressed suicidal teen (a misconception of cutters). She is just someone who is trying to figure out how to survive.
Rainfield’s writing is edgy and uncomfortable, but necessary. Her descriptive passages show the story. I found myself wondering if it would be too much to add to my classroom shelf to realizing that it needed to be there. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are living the same nightmare as Kendra and need to be heard. While Scars certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, it is a story that needs to be told.
Source: Review copy from Teen Book Scene
Publisher: WestSide Books
Date Published: 2010
Author Website: Cheryl Rainfield