Sunday, 25 May 2014

Book Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Title: Sweethearts
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Publication Date: February 1st, 2008
Genre: Young adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction,

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.
I've been flying through contemporary books lately, so when I saw this I thought I might give it a shot. I was expecting Sweethearts to be light, fluffy and sweet read, so I picked it up! I had really high expectations going into this book, I really wanted to love it. I found it very compelling and quick, and I did enjoy it, but I wasn't completely infatuated with it. 

Sweethearts tells the story of childhood friends, Jenna and Cameron. Back in elementary school, Jenna had been Jennifer Harris. Friendless, pudgy and pretty much a social outcast. Until along came Cameron Quick, who saw past all of it. They became fast friends and bonded in their childhood, but when Cameron mysteriously disappears one afternoon, Jenna is lead to believe that he has died. Fast forward a few years and Jennifer Harris is now Jenna Vaughn. Skinny, popular and a major people-pleaser. When Cameron suddenly decides to come back into Jenna's life they are forced to face some demons from their past. I don't want to spoil anything so I'll leave it at that. 

I went into this book having read no reviews, nothing except for the very cryptic synopsis. This book was nothing like I had expected. The title and blurb of this book were a little bit misleading to me, I went into it expecting a very light, fluffy book that had a large focus on the romance. Boy, was I wrong. This book has a large focus on some heavier issues and the aftermath of abuse and neglect. Jenna and Cameron have both led quite complicated lives. I really appreciated how Zarr called attention to the effects of bullying and just how damaging and lingering they can be and also eating disorders. Jenna was a very fragile character, but it was heartwarming to watch her deal with some of these issues. 

The largest part of the story for me was the reintroduction of Cameron into Jenna's life and what it can mean to love someone who has made such a profound impact on your life, to love from a distance, and to continue to love someone even when the truth is tough. Although I felt the ending was quite abrupt and unsatisfying, I did recognise that this book was not about the (non-existent) romance between Jenna and Cameron, but rather it was a poignant exploration of childhood friendships, change, love and what it truly means to let go. 

Sara Zarr has a talent for tapping into the teenage mindset and presenting realistic struggle.Though I was a little bit underwhelmed by this book,  I recommend it to any contemporary fans who enjoy exploring some of the heavier issues and hardships of adolescence and young adulthood. 


  1. This looks like a good one! I've not read a lot of memorable contemporaries lately, I guess I have another one to check out :)

    Jules @ Jules Bookshelf

    1. I didn't *love* it but it was really enjoyable. I've been cruising through these contemporaries lately! I particularly loved Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill, To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han and Open Road Summer by Emery Lord! They're all amazing, I definitely recommend them! :)

      Maddie @ The Girly Geek

  2. I hadn't heard of this book until now. Sorry to hear it was disappointing =( It's hard when you go into a book expecting one thing and get something totally different.

    Amanda @ Born Bookish

    1. That's very true! It's the worst feeling ever.

      Maddie @ The Girly Geek


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