Rachel reviews Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

[trigger warning for cover: cutting, blood]

Lesbian author Cheryl Rainfield presents a gripping and compassionate novel about a teenage girl trying to move on from horrible traumas, and at the same time, find true love. That novel is Scars.

Fifteen year old Kendra Marshall, a bright, talented artist, had a childhood full of sexual abuse. She is being stalked by her rapist, but she can’t get him in jail because she cannot remember his identity. Every man she knows could be him. To get rid of her unbearable pain, Kendra self-harms by cutting. She works hard to keep it a secret from everybody, as she feels it’s her only way to cope.

Things change when Kendra gets to know Meghan, the school rebel with a deep, caring heart. The two become friends, and Kendra feels something more than friendship. But starting a relationship proves difficult, because of Kendra’s stalker and her family’s sudden financial problems. Threatened with losing all her support systems, Kendra must find out who her abuser is.

Scars is an honest portrayal of sexual abuse, the repercussions and effects. It can be disturbing, with Kendra’s memories and flashbacks, and the descriptions of her cutting. The story itself is heavy, but it focuses on real issues that a lot of people need to be better aware of. Rainfield put so much into Scars, especially with her characters. Carolyn, Kendra’s therapist and mother-figure, provides love and understanding to Kendra. Meghan is a strong girl, and is willing to jump in and help those who need a hand. I could vividly picture each character in the novel, and I grew to love or detest them.

Another aspect of the story I loved was Kendra’s art. She painted or drew what she felt, pulling no punches. One of the most touching scenes in the book was when Kendra painted a picture of Meghan and gave it to her.

Kendra being a lesbian isn’t the primary focus of Scars, but it’s there. She too deals with coming out to her parents, and deciding to get into a relationship with Meghan. I loved both Kendra and Meghan, and felt they went so well together. Both respected the other’s feelings, and talked deeply and honestly of their lives. They were not, by any stretch of the imagination, perfect; they were human. But their love for each other was undeniable.

Scars is a suspenseful read as Kendra gets closer to finding her abuser out. The climax is really edge-of-your seat, but ultimately satisfying, as is the ending. Though the story might be too heavy for some people, others might find it a good read, and a resource for healing. It’s definitely a strong voice in literature that deserves to be read.