Rating: 3 out of 5
Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were one another’s only friends back at their cruel elementary school. They didn’t need anyone else, and their exceptionally tight bond transcended all forms of regular friendship. When Cameron and his troubled family suddenly disappear without a word, Jennifer is devastated. However, a move gives her the opportunity to change herself. So Jennifer Harris sheds a few pounds and becomes Jenna Vaughn, but constantly lives with her old self’s insecurities.
Now, as a high school senior, Jenna has everything that “Jennifer” couldn’t have: friends, a place at her school, and even a boyfriend. But then Cameron suddenly comes back, and brings with him all the emotions and events that Jenna has tried to suppress for years. Will inviting Cameron back into her life bring her back to where she started: an overweight, insecure, and friendless girl? Will Cameron even stay this time, or is he still keeping secrets?
SWEETHEARTS is a short but sweet read about a relationship, an emotion that is not quite love, not quite just friendship. It’s always difficult to write about anything that straddles the border between two distinctive places, but Sara Zarr does an admirable job of pitching the unspoken past against the possibly false present.
Unfortunately, it is also this attempt to stay ambiguous that pulls this novel down for me. Maybe it was just the timing of when I read this novel; while I appreciated the non-fairy-tale-like ending—so much more realistic than happily-ever-afters—I wanted perhaps a more definitive resolution. An epilogue of sorts, per se. This book left me with the feeling like I missed something, like this was just two crazy weeks in a difficult-to-understand girl’s confusing life, two weeks that will fade from her memory over time.
If you want to read something that’s a little more challenging, a little more thought-provoking, and definitely well-written, SWEETHEARTS is the book for you.
Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why)
Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere)
Want more? I still love her writing, so yes.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - It's one of the simplest covers that I know, and yet one of the best. The "blankness" and simplicity of the cover seems to symbolize purity, or triumph of adversity. The colors work well together, and the cookie is just...tasty, albeit in a bittersweet, half-broken kind of way. Yum.