Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
It’s clear from the cover of Scars that the novel is about a girl who cus herself. It isn’t the first book I’ve read about cutting, but what pulled me into this one was the story of why Kendra is cutting and how she understands that she is in danger from the outside as well as from within.
Kendra knows that she has been sexually molested over a period of years, but she has erased from her memory the face of the man who had continually raped her as a child. As she speaks to her therapist in the opening chapter, a little note that has been placed in her backpack confirms Kendra’s suspicions. Her rapist is now following her, leaving threats that if she remembers him and tells anyone, he will kill her.
This is a quick-paced, heart pounding setup. As the reader becomes involved in Kendra’s story, she realizes that there are many possible suspects–Kendra’s art mentor and her mom’s BFF, Sandy; Kendra’s math teacher, who is also a friend of the family; and others. Though Kendra would like to confide in those who ask her what is bothering her, she never knows if that very man is the one who raped her. And she knows that telling is dangerous. So–she’s stuck. Ironically, she feels that while cutting is hurting her, it is also helping her to get through this terrible period of her life. So that, too, remains a secret.
Finally there is someone Kendra can talk to, Meghan has her own set of serious problems with her alcoholic and physically abusive mom. She sleeps with guys to numb herself. Both girls can see how their behavior is hurting themselves, even if it does comfort them in some weird way. The best release that Kendra has is her dark, disturbing art, which her mother criticizes as unsellable.
The chase is on–can Kendra stop her cutting? Will her rapist catch her and follow through on murder? If she figures out who he is, how will she protect herself from him?
High school housekeeping: Scars is a quick read, one that will have wide appeal for teens,and that includes reluctant readers. The tension that drives Kendra to cut and the scenes of the cutting itself are very realistically portrayed. What is deeply unrealistic is the melodramatic, over-the-top ending. It put me off, but to be honest, I think a lot of teens will really like it–so thumbs up on this one. Have fun with the fear.
The book includes a very nice, pretty thorough resource guide for help with cutting, ritual abuse, and rape recovery.