As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other's only friend. So when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she'd lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is 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 both are 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.
I've read both of Sara Zarr's other novels, Story of a Girl and Once Was Lost, but neither of them totally "wow"ed me. I mean, they're great and I really like them, but they lacked a certain spark that would have made me love them. Sweethearts, though? Totally has that spark. It's like a freaking firework.
I'm not even sure where to begin with this review, because I love everything about this book, even the parts that I hate. Like, Ethan, Jenna's boyfriend? I wanted to punch him. He was so infuriating, being so self-righteous and constantly suspicious of Jenna and Cameron's friendship. However, even though I wanted to smack him, I could totally see why he was being so obnoxious. He and Jenna have not been dating long, but from the beginning, it was clear that they both did really care about each other and they were trying to make sure each other was happy, even if neither of them really had any idea about how to ensure that. Another thing that made me so mad were the scenes about the past, before Cameron left. There are plenty of flashbacks included, and because the past was such a terrible time for Jenna and Cameron, they are totally painful to read. They are full of so much emotion and tragedy and stupid people that make them even more depressing to read; however, just because they punched me in the stomach doesn't mean I didn't like reading them. On the contrary, I loved it. I loved being hit with so much emotion in such small snippets, because despite the often short length, they still managed to showcase the special bond Jenna and Cameron had at that time.
However, on to the things I loved-loved, instead of hated-loved. Which is pretty much everything, but this review is already pretty word vomit-y, so I will try to contain myself. One of the absolute best things was Jenna herself. Jenna has got plenty of emotional baggage, having gone from a "loser" to as popular as she can be at a small charter school. I definitely want to be angsty friends with her because I feel like she would describe our angst in a way better way than I ever could, because her writing is seriously amazing. She describes things so vividly, even though she often seems unsure and confused. The dialogue in this book is great as well; her friends, while I could have done with them being a little more present because occasionally they seemed flat, are a funny bunch, and I loved their interaction.
I can't finish this review without mentioning the one and only Cameron Quick. He's about the only love interest I can deal with brooding; he makes his brooding work for him, but also does a great job of being simultaneously tragic and hopeful and uplifting because of how dedicated he is to fixing things for himself and his family.
Sweethearts made me laugh, made me cry, sigh, smile, flail my arms in excitement, think, and oh so much more. This is the type of book that I love so much that, despite the fact that I really want you to love it too, I don't mind if you don't, because, hey, that gives me more time to ramble on about how much I adore it.
Book details: Little, Brown/Paperback/$7.99
BONUS! Awesome quotes from the book that I could not resist including:
". . .There are certain people who come into your life, and leave a mark. . . Their place in your heart is tender; a bruise of longing, a pulse of unfinished business. Just hearing their names pushes and pulls at you in a hundred ways, and when you try to define those hundred ways, describe them even to yourself, words are useless."
"The past only had whatever power you gave it; life was what you made it and if you wanted something different from what you had, it was up to you to make it happen."