Saturday 13 June 2009

Review - Sweethearts / Sara Zarr

Summary - 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.Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

Review - Have you ever read a book and been utterly and completely infuriated by it's conclusion? That's how I was feeling after reading the last page of Sara Zarr's Sweethearts. This was not because hated this novel, on the contrary, I really enjoyed it but the ending left me shaking. I found myself dwelling on this conclusion for a couple of hours after as well. It's a sign of a quality book when the reader is left thinking about the events hours and days later. I wanted their journey, Jenna's and Cameron's, to continue.

My first Zarr read, Sweethearts, presents the reader with many fully formed characters. None of them are particularly likeable but they are relatable. Jenna's reinvented herself but finds herself sliding when the one person who loves her for herself returns. Cameron is a bit of an enigma, quiet, determined and battling his own demons. He's such an itinerant character, both in the past and the present, that you don't ever really feel that you get a good hold on him. It's his fate that most frustrated me, I understood but I was still extremely angry at him.

The romance was very understated, which my romance saturated YA palette was unused to. Zarr used a light touch with her characterisation and plot devices, like the effective flashbacks, to create a true representation of the fickleness of school, the strength found in unabashed acceptance and moving through your past. The reemergence of Jenna's coping mechanisms was occasionally heavy handed but generally to good effect. The deftness of touch makes this an enjoyable read with some important themes, intriguing characters and feet firmly planted in reality.

A novel that explores the strength of an unbreakable bond.

Published: February 2008
Format: Paperback,224 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Younger Readers
Origin: USA

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a flight of minds said...

I recently read Sweethearts too, but just wasn't very into it. Like you, I found the conclustion just, unsatisfying. Great review though!

- Alex

Anonymous said...

I love this book and I was actually okay with the ending. I think it summed things up pretty well. :)

Thao said...

I've always been wanting to read Sara Zarr's books. They're definitely my style. I heard from ppl here that this one got a real sad ending :( I think I should pick up the vietnamese version before i die of curiosity.

Steph Su said...

I just read this book last night and yeah, some things about it felt off to me. So I appreciate your review; it's definitely true.

Busy Bookblogger said...

I've been wanting to pick this one up (love the cover), but I might hold off now (especially since the book budget is limited). Thanks for your honest review! :)

Kelly said...

I just finished reading this one, and I can see what you mean about the ending. I was also a little surprised by the lack of romance. The title and cover made me think it would be a much lighter romance than it was. But I still enjoyed it.