Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scars - Book Review

Title: Scars

Author: Cheryl Rainfield

Release Date: March 24th, 2010
Format/Page Count: Hard Cover Edition, 250 pages
Publisher: Westside Books
Purchased: I won this book from a book blogging contest and received it directly from the author.

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.
Expectation: Looking forward to reading this one for a long time. Interested in seeing how the subject matter is covered. Issue YA is something I'm passionate about. High expectations.

Market/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Issues


Fifteen-year old Kendra is such a strong, endearing and memorable character. The fact that she cuts her arms to the point of mutilation makes her no less strong. Scars opens with Kendra telling her therapist Carolyn that someone is following her. The reader is hooked by this revelation. When she tells Carolyn it’s her molester who is out there stalking her, the implausibility of this happening pushes the reader even harder to find out what happens. In the end of Chapter One, though, Kendra discovers a note from her abuser in her backpack, confirming her suspicions to both her therapist and the reader.

Kendra cannot remember the identity of her abuser. The stress she experiences through both vague memories of her abuse, and the stalking from her unknown perpetrator, cause her to cut to relieve the pain. When Meghan enters her life—originally to rescue her from bullying in the school hallway—Kendra experiences a glimmer of hope for her future. With Meghan and Carolyn at her side, the reader gets a sense of hope for Kendra’s eventual recovery. But it’s not an easy road ahead of her.

Rainfield skilfully keeps the reader on edge through the unfolding of this dark and realistic story of childhood sexual abuse. What really touched me the most about this story is the heartbreaking way Kendra occasionally suspected one of the most caring people in her life of being her abuser. Sandy, her mother’s homosexual friend, is always there for Kendra…always filled with love and understanding for her. But her struggle to remember the details of her abuse, and the face of the man behind it, means nobody in her life is above suspicion. Through her suspicion of Sandy, the reader gets a keen sense of the turmoil Kendra lives in.

Readers will become fully engrossed in this young adult novel. Rainfield has drawn such a paradoxically strong and broken character in Kendra that the reader will both fear and long for her memory to be recovered, for her life to be restored. They will feel Kendra’s urge to cut and they will experience temporary relief when she does, so powerful are Rainfield’s descriptions of the stress and pain that Kendra experiences. She writes Kendra’s helplessness and determination to reclaim her life with such painstaking accuracy that the reader cannot help but get totally engaged with this story. Though I thought I worked out who the abuser was early on in the story, I was still fully engrossed in discovering if I was right and how exactly the story would play out. Rainfield delivered a satisfying ending, worthy of the build-up created by Kendra’s journey of pain.
Scars is an important book. It’s a brave look into the wasteland that is left behind when our children are sexually molested. It’s a book of truth, pain and hope. Rainfield turns a spotlight on a topic that needs to be brought into the open. And she does it in a no-holds-barred way, offering up a true look into the horrible reality that too many children face.

Expectation was met and exceeded. I wasn't sure how such a difficult topic could be tackled, but Cheryl Rainfield did it with an exactitude of excellence. 

Size: 4 1/2


  1. Oh wow. This seems like a GREAT book!

  2. Check out my blog, I nominated you for an award:

  3. Thank you so much, Stephanie. (-: I was busy most of the weekend. I will try to do my nominations in the next day or so. Thank you!

  4. Thank you so very much, Kevin, for your beautiful review of Scars! I really appreciate it. (beaming)

  5. Thanks for visiting, Cheryl! Loved your book. (-: