Sweethearts

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Overview

After losing her soul mate, Cameron, when they were nine, Jennifer, now seventeen, transformed herself from the unpopular fat girl into the beautiful and popular Jenna, but Cameron's unexpected return dredges up memories that cause both social and emotional turmoil.
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Sweethearts

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Overview

After losing her soul mate, Cameron, when they were nine, Jennifer, now seventeen, transformed herself from the unpopular fat girl into the beautiful and popular Jenna, but Cameron's unexpected return dredges up memories that cause both social and emotional turmoil.
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Editorial Reviews

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)
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)

Booklist
Zarr's writing is remarkable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739367766
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr was raised in San Francisco, California. She is the author of How to Save a Life, What We Lost, Sweethearts, and the National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl. She is also the coauthor of Roomies, with Tara Altebrando.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 220 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(121)

4 Star

(44)

3 Star

(29)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(16)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 220 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What I Think About "Sweethearts"

    Sweethearts is about a boy adn girl who grow up together. Just like anyother love story you would think that they would end up together. But in this book, Sara Zarr takes a turn on the love story. Jenna used to be the un-popular kid in her old school. But once her Mom got married and she moved, she was one of the popular kids in her school. She was no longer fat, and there was nobody to make fun of her. She had the boyfriend that anyone could have wanted. She also had a boyfriend. Her old time friend, Cameron, left her 8 years ago. So when he finally decideds to show up in her life again, that's when her world comes crashing down. Her boyfriend, Ethan, get jelous, and Cameron won't even hang out with her friends or even talk to her that much. Sooner or later he finally decideds that he will hang out with her and her friends. After about half a year or so, he then starts to question why he came back to see Jenna. In the meantime Jenna is falling in love with him. Later Ethan and Jenna brake up and Jenna tells Cameron, while he is sleeping, that she loves him. Then when she wakes up Cameron is gone. And Ethan and Jenna already broke up. So Cameron went back to California to help out his family. There is a lot of baggage in the book that you will have to find out for yourself about Cameron adn his dad, brothers and sisters. That is the reason why he left Jenna. This book is full of love, secrets, lust, friendship, partying, and just typical teenage stuff. I saw this book just sitting on the shelf, picked it up, read the back, and decided to read it. I recommended this book to my friends, and will recommend it to you, too. This is a must read book. Short, ease chapters.

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2009

    Not Worth Your Time or Money.

    I read the back of 'Sweethearts' and felt that I just HAD to read it. I wish someone had been there to talk me out of it. The whole book's just a bunch of the main character, Jennifer, trying to avoid making choices. "Should I stay with my boyfriend or not?". Then there's her childhood friend who returns out of the blue and she struggles with deciding if she likes him enough to dump her jealous boyfriend. Not to mention that periodically throughout the book there are segments that describe an "incident" that Jennifer and her old friend had with her friend's father. Those segments make it sound like a big, gross, unfortunate, heart-breaking incident, when it just turns out to be a bunch of running, yelling, and threatening. Plus there's Jennifer's never ending self-consciousness that just gets old after about 70 pages. This book did have me going for the majority of it because I wanted to see what Jennifer did with her life, does she start a relationship with an old friend or does she stay with the guy she knows is crazy about her? So when I was reading I didn't mind her quirky personality, the slow pace of the story, the strange rambling monologues she had, or the even stranger habit she had of stealing small items- mainly food- from convenient stores. Really, what killed this book for me was the pathetic ending. It was pointless and it seemed like the author just gave up or rushed to meet a deadline. It definitely wasn't worth the pages it took to get to the ending. While the book isn't a complete waste- since there is some delightful humor swirled in- it wasn't worth the money and time I devoted to reading it.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Stupid, Bad Book!

    I thought that this book was disappointing and kind of pointless. I really didn't like it. It left me feeling sad and very bitter.
    I mean, come on, Cameron Quick (I love that name, by the way) came back into Jenna's life for a few days and they figured out a couple of things about their shared past, and then he left without a word and then when they did get back in contact with each other, it was very minimal, when they supposedly meant so much to each other.
    And at the end when Jenna questions whether or not she actually loves Cameron because she doesn't know if you can love someone that you don't see or talk to that often. This is just extremely stupid, I mean, oh my God, of course you can love someone even though you don't see them or talk to them that often. I mean, what about people that you love that pass away, the love that you have for them does not just go away because you can't see or talk to them. Jeez.

    This book left me frustrated and angry.

    Can you see my bitterness?

    7 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Its a thin/medium book

    My heart brokee at the end. If i where her, i would go wherever he went. I really cryied at the end. I couldnt help it.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wow...

    This was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Its really deep and compelling and emotional. Its so amazing how these two characters find their deep friendship, that helped them get through so much once again. I recommaned this to everyone because it is amazingly great.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    perfect realistic book

    this book was amazing but i cant help wondering is there going to be another book to follow?????????? i hope so!!! this book was soooo good that it made me cry yes cry! this is a must read book go out there and buy it then read it and cry all you want! :)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    Ehh....

    It was okay, i guess. I read and finished it in a whole day and wasn't every impressed with it. The end of the book left you hanging, like it wasn't finished.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Aww

    This book made me cry i wish the endng was different

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    cuuteeee

    this is such a cute story. it made me cry, and its so sad how the boy has to leave again!! i wanted them to be to gether forever, like it should have been. Not exactly the happy ending i was looking for. :/ still really good though (:

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Anticlimatical to the extreme, and thoroughly enjoyable with no doubt!!

    Amazingly written and and agonizingly heart-wrenching in a way that leaves you teary eyed and smiling for a reason you can't seem to relate with anything that concluded the book... except maybe hope. <BR/> This book is not at all hard to get into, extremely hard tpo put down, and most difficult to remember that it is simply a story. It drags you in- no wait, you come willingly- and you follow to the end. There are parts where you gasp or drop the book or want to scream and throw the thing across the room... It also makes you smile so brightly and sincerely at the events that only an alternate reality could produce. <BR/> The characters are created wonderfully and possess details that make them so real and individual that you feel you know them completely and even find yourself predicting the next line and enjoying the naturality of their personalities.<BR/> Anyhow... Lastly, I say that as for happy endings, it depends how far your understanding of happiness goes; be prepared for an extreme anticlimax.<BR/><BR/> even now, so long after having read the story, thinking about it almost puts me in a calm, thoughtful state. Fragile and filled with consideration... This book REALLY NEVER leaves you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

    I enjoyed this book. SWEETHEARTS is a character-driven novel where there isn't much action but a big emotional journey with quite a kick. <BR/><BR/>Jennifer Harris is a social outcast. She is fat and the other girls in third grade are very mean. She eats lunch alone until the day that she decides to make Cameron Quick her friend. After that, she and Cameron are always together, both of them outcasts. <BR/><BR/>Then, one day Cameron disappears, and the other kids tell her that he is dead. <BR/><BR/>The book then forwards on to present day and Jennifer has recreated herself. She is pretty, popular, has a cute boyfriend, and has changed her name to Jenna. She is a senior but she feels like she is just acting a part. It takes a lot of energy to be the girl that she is. <BR/><BR/>Enter Cameron Quick -- who she thought was dead. He reenters her life and the past comes flooding back in big waves. They reconnect and discover what real love is all about. I liked the fact that this relationship between Cameron and Jennifer was real but not sexual. In fact, when she does have sex with her boyfriend she feels unconnected to him. This <BR/>love is not about sex but about experiences that will live within you for a lifetime. It rushes in and takes over. <BR/><BR/>The characters of the story were real and you truly wanted to be their friends. I especially liked Jennifer's dad. He was someone that I wish I could talk with for hours. The book is also one that doesn't have a definitive ending. I kept thinking up fun endings for days afterwards.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Cute

    I liked how the author really got into the feelings of the main characters. The book was great, althojght it was short and i hated the ending. Cameron and Jenna didnt even like date at any time throughout the book which was a letdown. But its cute and fun, and A greay read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2009

    It was okay

    The story was pretty good but the ending just kind of ruined it for me

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    loved it

    This book was awesome. The story was very realistic and touching. I was surprised at the end that Cameron and Jenna never went back to his house. But I would defiantly recommend this to anyone who loves to read unforgettable,emotional, and beautifully written books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    It's a pretty awesome book =]

    It's really emotional, and great, and its story line is TOTALLY touching!! i loved it! the charcters are great, and the whole thing is definitely, DEFINITELY unforgettable!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    this is a very unforgettable book

    Sara Zarr's Sweethearts is a heartwarming book the story of the two teens that have romantically reunited, uncover the teens past of bully's tragic memories and realizing who they are. This is a good book for people that like an adventure and some romance along the way!

    When young Cameron mysteriously dies in a car crash, that's when Jennifer Harris learns that she will never be able to live with herself, so she changes her name to Jenna Vaughn, starts a new school and makes new friends! But when she realizes that Cameron was never dead, her last year in high school becomes her worst nightmare. She starts to become more like Jennifer Harris her old self. In this book young Jennifer will never be the same she will have to change her name and even move to a different school if she ever wants to fit in.


    Between her boyfriend, friends, her overloading schoolwork and Cameron, Jenna finds herself realizing who she is and never was!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2009

    AMAZINGLY GOOD!!!

    This is definitely a great book! One of my favorites. The authors ability to connect to the reader is amazing. It can get a little slow, but still keeps your interest. It was one of the most heart-touching books ever. A must read for everyone!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2009

    Disappointing, forgettable, & DULL

    I really wanted a book to read "just for fun" so I decided to pick this one up after reading the back. In the end, I was really disappointed. When I was reading it, it felt like there was no depth in the story at all. There is nothing exciting about it and it is really forgettable. The characters are bland and the main character got irritating. Overall, boring, overdramatic, and NOT WORTH IT! The back description of the book is more interesting than the book itself! If you want a book that will keep you thinking about it all day, this is definitely one to skip on the shelves. There are so many other wonderful books out there so don't waste you time with this one.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    One of the Most Beautiful Stories Ever Written

    As a child, Jennifer Harris was a social outcast. She was nicknamed the Fattifier, because she was chubby, and made fun of for her lisp. Her only friend was another outcast named Cameron Quirk. They were always there for each other, and Cameron made everything bearable for Jennifer. And when he suddenly leaves without even saying goodbye, Jennifer is devastated. She thinks that he is dead, and no one tells her otherwise. Now Jennifer Harris is Jenna Vaughn. Her mom got married and Jennifer changed her name and her personality. She's got friends, a first boyfriend, and a loving family, all that she could ever want. But she can never forget Cameron, and memories of him haunt her constantly. So when Cameron just shows up one day at school, everything is changed for her. Throughout the story, Jenna has flashbacks to when she was Jennifer. And Jenna is not quite sure if she likes who she is now, and not sure if she wants to become Jennifer again. When Cameron was her best friend, she could be anyone she wanted to be, but as Jenna, her whole life seems to be a lie. Sweethearts was a beautiful story about how the strongest bonds of friendship can span any distance or amount of time. It was one of the saddest and most romantic books I have read in a long time, and it made me cry. It was filled with such raw emotion that I felt I was inside Jenna's head, living her life with her. And while the ending isn't perfect, it is filled with contentment and hope. I highly recommend Sweethearts to everyone, especially girls who can't let go of their childhood sweethearts. It was a beautiful story, and I am glad I took the time to read this incredible story. I hope all of you get to read it too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2008

    OMG I LOVED IT!!!!!!!

    Ok i dont know what to say.....this book was the best thing that i ever read!! like some other people said before it just sticks with you...i hope this book will be with me forever! And i recommed it to my friend Rachel. I hope it speaks to you about letting go of the past and moving on with the future!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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