Review: Scars

Scars, Cheryl Rainfield***Trigger warning***

15 year-old Kendra hasn’t felt safe since she began recalling long-repressed memories of sexual abuse, especially because she can’t remember his identity. But she knows he’s following her, leaving threatening messages that only she understands. Kendra has only two means of relief: her artwork and cutting.

Her cutting she hides because she knows her mother freak out; her art she hides because she knows her mother will criticize. Instead Kendra relies on Sandy, a family friend who encourages her to paint, and from Meghan, her classmate who’s becoming a friend and possibly more.

But Kendra knows that the truth, long buried in her subconscious, will eventually claw its way free — whether Kendra survives or not.

Starts off well

Scars sat on my TBR list for a long time — partially because it always seemed to be checked out of the library, and partially because I don’t do well with stories involving sexual assault. Fortunately author Cheryl Rainfield seemed more interested in telling the story than wallowing in gratuitous details, so I didn’t have to do any skipping.

From what I can tell, a YA novel starring a lesbian main character is a rare thing (the only one I’ve read is Malinda Lo’s Ash); it’s something that difficult to do without making the novel feel voyeuristic or like it’s pandering to an audience that just wants to be titillated. Fortunately Rainfield handles the subject beautifully, turning Kendra and Meghan’s budding romance into something that is exciting, frightening, and delicate but strong.

But falls so flat

**Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read this book and don’t want to learn details, do not proceed.**

The bulk of the novel is good, but the ending sticks in my craw — it’s rushed and poorly executed. I wasn’t surprised that Kendra’s father ends up being her abuser, but I was surprised at how quickly the plot devolved into gun-waving, and extremely upset at Kendra’s mother’s reaction to the revelation.

How the hell could she not know? How could she be in such denial? I’d kill anyone who abused my child, no matter if he were my husband or my own father. It just doesn’t seem believable to me that Kendra’s mother could be in such ignorance, or that Kendra could so readily forgive her denial.

I’m glad there’s a happy ending, but it doesn’t seem realistic, and that’s disappointing. The author spent hundreds of pages creating a dark, powerful story, and then arbitrarily decided to wrap it up in a big “happily ever after” bow. I didn’t quit reading; how is it fair that Rainfield should quit writing?

(What a bummer of a way to finish out the Mount TBR Challenge. Thank goodness I’ve got the rest of the year to get this bad taste out of my mouth.)

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