Sweethearts
  • Sweethearts
  • Sweethearts

Sweethearts

4.1 222
by Sara Zarr
     
 

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As 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

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Overview

As 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.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Zarr's writing is remarkable.
Booklist - (starred review)
"Zarr's writing is remarkable."
From the Publisher
"Zarr's writing is remarkable."—Booklist (starred review)"

Engrossing."—Publishers Weekly, (starred review)"

Haunting and ultimately hopeful....A convincing, fire person narrative voice....Zarr transfixes teen readers with enticing explorations of identity and enduring love."—Kirkus Reviews"

[Zarr is a] master of show-not-tell....[a] subtle, beautifully-written novel."—VOYA, (starred review)

Publishers Weekly

This book about a former misfit who must face her troubled childhood is dark and engrossing, thanks to Zarr's (Story of a Girl) full-bodied characters and creative storytelling. Through well-timed flashbacks, thin, popular high school senior Jenna remembers being fat Jennifer, who along with her best friend, Cameron, endures teasing in elementary school and a hard home life (her single mother is almost never home, and his abusive father traumatizes both children). After Cameron moves away, Jennifer's cruel classmates tell her he has died, and her mother corroborates the story; readers may find it hard to believe the subsequent revelation that she has, in fact, lied. But they will appreciate how honestly Jenna reveals the toll it takes on her when Cameron suddenly reappears, transferring into her senior class (she starts stealing and binge-eating again); their rekindled connection forces her to decide if "Jenna" is really who she wants to be. There is harsh material here, in the characters' presents as well as their pasts: Cameron is now an emancipated minor, and Jenna's family temporarily takes him in when he becomes homeless. Flashbacks to a horrifying episode with Cameron's father are revealed slowly and carefully, filling readers with a sense of dread, but ultimately her memories teach Jenna something surprising about her own strength. Other realistically flawed characters, from a mother who must learn truly to help her daughter to Cameron himself, round out this complex and bittersweet story of friendship and the meaning of "unfinished business." Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

Jennifer Harris was an overweight girl who was bullied all the time in elementary school. She wasn’t the only one, though; a boy named Cameron Quick was also an elementary school outcast. The two of them became best friends. One day, Cameron just disappeared, and her mother convinced Jennifer that he was dead. As Jennifer grows up now without Cameron, she resolves to leave her old life behind. She loses weight, changes schools, and becomes part of the popular high school crowd. But, just as she is beginning to forget about her previous life as the socially tormented little girl, several clues hint that Cameron might not be dead after all. Jennifer is forced to confront emotional baggage from her past and remember some of the most horrific things that happened to her, things she put completely out of mind. The reader sees Jennifer struggle to find who she really is and be true to that self, an issue of identity to which most teens can relate. Jennifer makes hard decisions that hurt people in the process, but in this highly suspenseful novel, she finally discovers what true friendship means. Reviewer: Ashleigh Larsen
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Melanie Koss
Alternating between present-day life and flashbacks to a tragic and momentous day in her childhood, Sweethearts tells the story of Jenna Vaughn, a 17-year-old who reinvents herself from Jennifer Harris, the chubby, picked-on little girl, into a popular high school girl with friends and "the" boyfriend. But when her best and only friend from childhood, Cameron Quick, reappears, her life is thrown out of balance. Sara Zarr captures the feelings of Jenna who, inside, is still the chubby little girl who secretly ate food to fill her emptiness, whose mother wasn't there for her, and whose only friend was a boy with an abusive home life. When Cameron returns, her insecurities return in full force. If he was alive, why didn't he contact her? And what does he want from her now? Sweethearts is a book that is impossible to put down and that compels one to read until the bittersweet end. Reviewer: Melanie Koss
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up- Jenna, 17, has remade herself. She's lost weight, is invited to social events, likes her alternative high school, and even has a boyfriend. In vivid detail, she recalls the bittersweet events of her earlier life. One of the few non-Mormons in her Salt Lake City grade school, she was a social pariah with only one friend, a boy named Cameron, another outcast. Readers are given fleeting glimpses of happy memories as well as the horrific traumas of their past, including a devastating experience with Cameron's cruel and abusive father and Jenna's belief that Cameron moved away and then died. When he reappears during her senior year, she reassesses her situation-and the person whom she has become-and realizes that the strength of her relationship with her friend spans time and makes her current relationships seem trivial. Zarr's sophisticated writing style, bouncing back and forth in time, teasing readers with further details, is wonderful. The main characters, and their unique bond, are well drawn and believable. Jenna struggles to see the child she was more clearly, to find a way to integrate her past into her present and to work toward self-acceptance. Despite its title, Sweethearts is not saccharine; it is substantial.-Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

Kirkus Reviews
After years working to achieve popularity, Jenna tries not to think about elementary school: the lisp, the tears, the fat. When her childhood soul mate Cameron Quick miraculously reappears, Jenna's carefully cultivated persona begins to unravel. Tension builds as readers wonder how long Jenna can keep up appearances, what made Cameron vanish so many years ago and whether the two will consummate their love. Jenna and Cameron's preternatural bond remains at the core of this original story. Readers will find their fascinating connection at once believable and unfathomable. Intermittent flashbacks cast a murky, nightmarish hue and culminate to reveal a horrific moment that united Jenna and Cameron forever. This haunting and ultimately hopeful novel asserts what many teens feel acutely: that childhood experiences often leave indelible marks. A convincing, first-person narrative voice makes the painful ramifications of exclusion palpable. The costs of popularity, eating disorders and abuse also find resonance. Zarr transfixes teen readers with enticing explorations of identity and enduring love. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316014564
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
217
Sales rank:
220,721
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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