Title: Scars
Author: Cheryl Rainfield
ISBN: 9781934813324
Pages: 248 pages
Publisher/Date: WestSide Books, c2010.

I snatch my backpack off the ground and rummage through it, looking for my sketches, my doodles, for anything I can use to distract her–to distract us both.
“I mean–I don’t think I’m ready.” But I have to be. I have to figure out who he is. So why do I feel like I’m going to vomit when I think about it?
I yank things out of my backpack–a bruised apple, an English test, an overdue library book, but no sketchbook. I dump my backpack upside down; pens, pencils, my dirty gym socks, a half-eaten granola bar all fall out. I shake my bag harder. Then a bright square of paper falls out.
It’s a deep magenta, almost red, folded into stiff squares. I’ve never seen it before. I pick it up by its shiny edges and open it. It makes a crackling sound.
There are only a few words typed on the page, but they cut through me like a blade: “You have broken your promise.”
My breath shudders in my throat. His hand gripping my wrist. His lips against my ear.
“What is it?” Carolyn asks, from far away.
I hand her the note with unsteady hands. “It’s from him.” (10-11)

Kendra Marshall is trying to deal with the resurfacing of memories of being sexually abused as a young child. Ever since she started seeing her therapist Carolyn, Kendra has suspected that abuser has been following her. Scary, threatening notes prove her suspicion, and her cutting to handle the pain has escalated. When a classmate comes to her rescue in the school hallway, Kendra thinks she might have found a new friend after her last friend left her. But getting close to someone might be too much to ask for as she struggles to determine who in her life ruined her childhood.

The author, Cheryl Rainfield, has been very open about her own struggles and experiences with both sexual abuse and cutting. She provides a wealth of resources at the end of the book for readers who might be suffering. While I don’t have any personal experience with cutting or sexual abuse (and I am extremely grateful), I do know a classmate in high school who revealed after the fact that she cut. I had wished that I had known during our school years. After reading this book, I’m not sure if I would have been able to do anything to help her.

Rainfield gives the side-effects of the abuse justice, giving the feelings and emotions credence. Kendra would rather feel the pain from cutting then the pain from her unidentifiable attacker. Her inability to trust anyway is also explained clearly and concisely. Lois Duncan recommends on the back cover that “It could prove to be a life-saver for other young victims of abuse and self-harm.” In actuality, it brings the problem to light for readers who could never comprehend what these teens might be going through.

The opening, part of which I’ve quoted above, grips readers from the start. You want to know who is following her, and why, and if she ever remembers the specifics of what happened to her. You want to see her overcome these problems. The suspense continues as uncertainty is cast on everyone that Kendra comes in contact with, and she continually has readers guessing if he’s the one who did this to her. It helps that Kendra has the support group she does, who know when to get her the help that she needs and know how to react. If only every teen facing these difficulties had this kind of support and professional help. A must read.

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