July 7, 2012

Review: Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Author: Cheryl Rainfield
Genre: Contemporary YA
Release Date: March 24, 2010


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.


I honestly don't know where to start with this review. This book is one of the best I've read so far this year - maybe one of the best I've ever read. It completely and absolutely blew me away. I applaud Cheryl Rainfield for her remarkable writing and the compassion with which she wrote the story.

Scars is a deeply moving story about Kendra, a fifteen year old girl who has suffered at the hands of a sexual abuser since she was a very little girl. To deal with the pain and the flashes of memories that flood her, she cuts herself. She does this to cope - not to try to commit suicide. Along with not fitting in at school and not being able to connect with her parents, Kendra also must deal with the fact that she is a lesbian. Her parents believe it might be a phase or a product of her sexual abuse. Then Kendra meets Meghan, who teaches her to believe in herself and makes her finally feel happy again.

This story deals with really heavy and serious subjects such as sexual abuse and self-harming in the form of cutting. Self-harm is a very stigmatized subject in our society and the fact that Rainfield talks about it in such a compassionate way really moved me. In her author's note, Rainfield discloses to the reader that she used to be a cutter herself. I believe that it is due to this fact that she was able to write about cutting with such poignancy and tact. People shy away from the subject, but Rainfield introduces the reader to the real reasons people cut and what makes them do so. Readers will get an insider look at the thoughts and emotions that people who cut deal with. It is such a compassionate look at this problem and I cannot praise Rainfield enough for writing about it in such an amazing way. 

On top of the subject of self-harm is the very difficult subject of sexual abuse, and in this case, of a child. The reader is immediately empathetic to Kendra and her difficult life. We cheer her on to stay strong and to remember who abused her so she will find justice. In the end, Kendra and the reader discover who the abuser was, and it is terrifying and liberating at the same time. My heart literally ached for Kendra and her pain in this novel. It is written with such heartfelt insight and from such a deeply personal level that it was hard not to completely lose myself in the story - which I did. The storyline was fresh and dealt with very difficult topics, but it was amazingly well written and the storyline was filled with tension, which keeps the reader eagerly turning pages until the very end. Truthfully, I couldn't stop thinking about this book long after I read it. It had a very personal and powerful effect on me and it will be a book I re-read many times throughout my life. I highly highly recommend this book to anyone who knows someone that has dealt with abuse and/or self-harm, as well as to anyone who personally deals with those same issues. It will open your heart and your eyes to some very real problems going on in our world today and you will come away with a new understanding and compassion for those who suffer from them.


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