Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Title: Sweethearts
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Pages: 224
Release date: February 1st 2008
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought at The Book Depository
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other's only friend. So when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she'd lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating—everything "Jennifer" couldn't be. But she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.
When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

First sentence:
A dripping faucet.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow. I really enjoyed Once Was Lost and Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, but this one blew my mind. There are so many beautiful messages in this book, so many emotions it evoked, I don't even know where to start. The description sounds only okay, at least for me, and I probably wouldn't even have read it had I not previously read a Sara Zarr novel. But it's so much more than the synopsis tells you. I don't even know how to explain it, it's just more.

The writing is great, like in Once Was Lost and Story of a Girl. Beautiful and vivid, it creates such a rich atmosphere, sad and beautiful and hopeful at the same time.

I loved the characters in this novel. Jenna is such a relatable character, so complex and dynamic. So is Cameron, but both are still utterly realistic characters. Their relationship is... I don't even know how to describe it - I don't think any word could do that relationship justice. Their bond is stronger than any relationship I've read about, as far as I can remember. Since this story is about Jenna and Cameron, the other characters aren't as fully-developed, but they're still realistic and easy to imagine. I especially like Alan's character.

Generally, I do not like preachy books, but I still want novels to have some kind of message. That's really hard to balance, but Sara Zarr does so perfectly. So many serious topics (child abuse, bullying,...) are addressed, and the story sends such subtle messages just by showing what Cameron and Jennifer have been through, without becoming a preachy "issue book".

What I loved most about Sweethearts are the emotions it evoked in me. No, it's not the most tragic story I've read, but there's just something about the writing and the depiction of raw emotion that had me feeling every single thing Jenna felt. Especially the scenes written from a young, innocent Jennifer's point of view are heartbreaking. I bawled while reading the last 20 pages or so, even though it's not really a sad ending - it's actually pretty hopeful. But there's just something so heartbreaking about Jenna's and Cameron's story, I was crying so hard I couldn't see the letters anymore by the end of it.

My one problem with Sweethearts (and this is really just a teeny-tiny problem) is how often Jenna talked about how much homework she has. Yeah, that's part of teenage life, but it's not exactly something interesting to read about, so it annoyed me how often that's mentioned. But like I said, that's petty and probably the smallest problem I've ever had with a book, not even really worth mentioning.

Obviously, I highly recommend Sweethearts! I loved all of Sara Zarr's novels, but this one is my new favorite. An absolutlely fantastic book - with great writing and characters, and evoking amazing emotions. Everything about Sweethearts is simply beautiful.


  1. Oh,how I love this book! I actually have reread it! I don't know how I knew about it- I bought it years ago. First, the cover! I remember when I bought it, the cashier said something about how cool it was. And the story! Somehow I expected something different but I didn't mind it in a way. I loved the story for what it was. Cameron's father creeped me out. Do you think he did something to Jennifer? *shivers* And Cameron is just so so so amazing! I love this book!

  2. Great review! I read this one awhile back and absolutely loved it :)

  3. Great review. I've been hearing quite a lot about this book, but I loved that you had both positive and negative points in this review.

  4. Wow, this one sounds like a great story. I haven't ever read this author before, but I'll definitely be looking for her books now. Wonderful review :)

    Here from the CEP!

  5. This sounds like such a touching and amazing book!!! I want to read this even more now!

  6. Wow, I like that review. I wanted to read this book before, but I didn't. Don't know why.
    Now, that I read your review, the book got more interesting :)

  7. Sounds great!
    Old friends, new life... and a secret?

  8. Your review makes the book sound really good! Now I really want to read it!!

  9. Wow, 5 stars!! This is a new to me author and I can't wait to check out her work. Great review


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