Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

The Past:

They say that guys and girls can never just be friends....but tell that to little Jennifer and Cameron. From the third to fifth grade, they are best friends, driven together by being the social outcasts. From low-income families, Cameron and Jennifer are made fun. Jennifer feels the brunt of it and the nickname from the kids? Fattifer....but she has Cameron, who defends her and is always there for her.

On her birthday during their fifth grade year, Jennifer goes to Cameron's house to receive her present because it is too heavy for Cameron to bring to school. And what happens that day will forever alter her perception of life...

The following day, Cameron isn't at school; nor the next or the next day. The kids tell her that Cameron moved to California and died and Jennifer's mother, without saying it, tells her to take two days from school. At that moment, Jennifer silently puts Cameron in a coffin in her mind as well as Jennifer.

The Present:

Jenna Vaughn is beautiful, popular and witty. She has an amazing looking boyfriend Ethan and life is good, except the day of her birthday. Jenna still constantly struggles to keep Jennifer in the past and on this day, she knows she can do it once again. But when she gets home after school, she finds a note from Cameron. Her past has met her future.

Jenna and Cameron, now 6'2 and muscular, begin where they left off. But Cameron wants something from Jenna...he wants to revisit the past. And she isn't sure that is where she'd like to go. When he asks her to go back to their old neighborhood, the nightmares of her fifth grade birthday and what happened at his house come back and Jenna's identity begins to slip. She is still Jennifer or Jenna? Who is she really?

Jenna and Cameron's relationship has changed. There may be something more there that they want, but to act on it? Will their past bring together two lost innocent children or their present bring together two beautiful teens who have become stronger from their experiences?

Sara Zarr writes this story authentically and poignantly. It has power....from a glimpse into their childhood to what they have and will become. Jenna begins to see her inner strength while Cameron quietly holds those who love him with his own. Readers will not be able to put this one down because they get caught up in the character's worlds and what will ultimately happen. Zarr creates the perfect balance about relationships and how people affect how and who one becomes as well as how to let go....Highly recommended.


Durable Goods said...

In a fairly light year for great YA literature (a lot of good, not so much great) this has been a standout for me as well. Highly memorable for being a quiet book.

Durable Goods said...

Also, I meant to say that Sara Zarr gets Salt Lake City locations exactly right, and that the title is actually Sweethearts with an s.