Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
For me, this story of a young teen’s sexual abuse and self-harming (cutting) behavior was mesmerizing. It’s told in the first person perspective by high school freshman Kendra. The readers learn in the first few pages that Kendra has been abused, can’t remember who her abuser is, thinks he is currently stalking her, and has a therapist to help her cope with all these related issues. She remembers phrases from what her abuser said, like, “I will kill you if you tell.” When she hears these things in her mind, or remembers flashes of his hands grabbing her, the only thing that calms Kendra down is when she cuts her self with a utility knife she hides in her room and begins carrying in her backpack. Although Kendra keeps the scars on her arm a dark secret, her emotions come out in her artwork, which is strong, violent and emotional. Although her mother only criticizes her art, their close family friend Sandy supports her and tells her how talented she is. In fact, he helps her show and sell some of her paintings in a local coffee house when her parents tell her they can no longer afford her therapist Carolyn. Frighteningly, Kendra is remembering more and more of her abuse, and getting closer to identifying the abuser. At the same time, this means she’s cutting herself more and more.
This book and the main character captured my heart. It turns out that the author suffered through a similar situation, and the readers can feel the emotions bleeding through the pages. I recommend this to readers who like realistic teen fiction, teens who are drawn to titles about emotional problems, and fans of A Child Called It and similar books. If you know anyone suffering from sexual abuse like the main character in this book, here’s a hotline recommended by our Teen Health & Wellness database:
Break the Cycle Organization for Teens
The Safe Space