Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Tags: YA, friendship, abuse, family

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.

Similar Authors
Sarah Dessen
Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why)
Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere)

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 2/5
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.


  1. Haven't read this, but I love the similar authors so I think I might check it out.

  2. I love this book! Sara Zarr is pretty much amazing. :)

  3. I enjoyed this but not as much as I did Story of a Girl.

  4. I haven't read this yet either, but it sounds good. I'm not a fan of Story of a Girl, and that's the only Zarr book I've read.

  5. Which reminds me... I'm halfway through this book and have been for oh, maybe six months. I should really finish it :)

  6. I really want to read this book but I heard the ending was sad. And I'm not a fan of ambiguity either :(

  7. I really like this book. It is way better than Story of a Girl. I hated the ending though.

  8. I actually cried while reading this one! For reasons I find hard to articulate, it really affected me. I can definitely see how the ambiguity could be frustrating, though -- mostly because I always want a clear-cut, wrapped-up ending! That's just the sort of reader I am :)


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