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.
This story just broke my heart! It was a very tough and emotional read for me, and it deals with mature subject matters. My elder daughter is 14 years old, and I don’t think she is ready to read something like this so this book will be shelved for her for the time being until she’s a bit older.
Kendra is just fifteen years old, but she has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile. The trauma caused her to repress her memories, but they are starting to come back to her. She can remember the scent of his breath, his voice, and his hands but whenever she gets close to seeing his face, the urge to cut herself overtakes her. She cuts to numb the pain, and it stops the memories from surfacing. It isn’t until after Kendra begins sessions with a therapist, Carolyn, that she starts receiving the threats that she will be killed if she tells. Aside from her therapy sessions, Kendra uses her art as a form of expression. Her artwork is often dark and disturbing, which is why she doesn’t share it with her artist mother anymore. Her mom, Lori, pains pretty landscapes and criticizes Kendra that she needs to create art that will sell and that no one would ever want to buy her work because it is painful to look at. Kendra’s art teacher, Mrs. Archer, gives her the encouragement that she doesn’t get from her mom. There is a classmate, Meghan, who Kendra is attracted to. She has noticed bruises on Meghan’s neck, and Kendra learns that Meghan’s mother is an abusive alcoholic. The two girls find that they have common ground and that each deals with their pain in different ways.
This was a very fast read for me. Rainfield grabbed my attention right from the first chapter, and Kendra’s pain and angst is so palpable that my heart ached for her. Here is a girl that is so troubled but isn't getting what she needs from her parents. Her mom is too self-absorbed to reach out to her own daughter! I wanted to slap her!! She actually treats Kendra like the abuse was her fault. Kendra recalls a memory of when she was very young and tried to tell her mom that someone was hurting her, but her mom brushed her off and didn’t listen. Sadly, that hasn’t changed. Her dad’s company is downsizing and money has become tight, so he wants to keep a closer watch on their finances and wants to stop the expensive therapy sessions. Wow, really?? He wants to cut off his daughter’s lifeline and take away something that gives her the stability that she needs to cope? The lack of support from her parents have done one good thing for Kendra, and that is to make her strong and self-reliant.
Rainfield is a new-to-me Canadian author, and I definitely want to read more of her work! I was reading on her website that Rainfield actually used her forearm for the cover, so she knows of what she speaks. At the back of the book, she includes a lengthy list of resources for people that need support for self-mutilation or abuse. She donates a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre and Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Rainfield also writes on her website that Scars has been challenged by a library in the United States. The reason why Rainfield writes books like this is because this is the type of book that she needed as a teen and couldn’t find. I hope this book is never banned because the sad reality is that there are kids out there who can identify with Kendra, and a book like this can be a huge support for them and get them on the road to healing.
5 stars!! It was superb, and I will likely re-read it in the future. It's heartbreaking and haunting, and it is a story that will stay with you long after you finish the book.
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