Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Kendra has started to remember her abuse as a child, but she is unable to see her abuser’s face in her memories.  She believes she is being followed by her abuser, so she lives in fear that even as she works to remember, he is stalking her.  To cope with the pressure of the memories, Kendra cuts her arm, releasing all of her stress, anguish and pain and making it something she can handle.  Kendra also does amazing art work that reveals the pain of her abuse and the emotional toll it is taking on her.  Her mother, a professional artist, has been critical of the raw emotion of Kendra’s work, so Kendra hides her work from her.  Her father has become emotionally distant after Kendra told her parents about the abuse, so Kendra turns to her therapist, her art teacher, and her new girlfriend for support.  As Kendra’s memories build, readers will be unable to put the book down until all is revealed.

Rainfield, herself a survivor of abuse and cutting, has captured the situation with such power and ferocity that it can be painful to read.  Readers will find themselves in a vise of tension and menace that mirrors Kendra’s.  Rainfield has written a powerhouse of a book that is astoundingly honest and burningly real.  The character of Kendra is written with empathy and skill.  She never reads as a victim but as a heroine, seeking the truth about what happened to her.  The use of her art in the book to connect her to other people, speak when she cannot say the words, and scream for her pain is hauntingly real.

Get this into the hands of readers who enjoy tense, realistic reads.  The cover is beautifully done, capturing the cutting and the tension in a single image.  A brilliant book written in nervy honesty.  Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

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