Sweethearts (Sara Zarr)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Sweethearts by Sara ZarrAs children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another’s only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she’s lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she’s 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 are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

At first I thought this was going to be another YA novel with high school problems between new friends and an old friend showing up, an image to protect and a happily-ever-after in the end, but as I read through the novel, it wasn’t anything like that. It was set in a high school, and there were new friends versus the old one, but oh, there was so much more things into the story that when I initially expected.

First off, Jennifer/Jenna was bullied back in elementary because of her speech problem and her weight. In the midst of all these, she found a friend in Cameron Quick, who was as much as a loner as she is. They had a lot of good times together, except for her ninth birthday at Cameron’s house, which continues to haunt her even as she grew up. Then Cameron disappears and everyone told her that he was dead. It was then Jennifer decided that her old self would be buried with Cameron, and she emerges as Jenna. Then Cameron returns and Jenna is forced to face her past, face her present and finally own up to who she really was and how important Cameron is to her.

The book has a haunting feeling, like there was a past that they all couldn’t run away from. Some of the characters were annoying (example Ethan, Jenna’s boyfriend), but they felt like real people as the story goes on. The conflict that Jenna goes through inside felt real and raw, and I wanted so much for her to choose Cameron and for them to conquer their past. There was just the right amount of angst in the book, and it’s not even the shallow angst but the kind that stems from a troubled past.

And like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the book doesn’t have the typical happy ending. It was sad, but poignant, and the ending certainly illustrated that love and friendship between two people can survive the distance and time and can change a person in more ways than one. :)

I finish this review off with my favorite quote in the book:

Because love, love is never finished. It circles and circles, the memories out of order and not always complete.

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