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SweetheartsReview - Sweethearts
by Sara Zarr
Little, Brown Young Readers, 2008
Review by Amy Ridley
Aug 12th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 33)

Jennifer Harris has always been an outsider. She was overweight and her clothes were not always clean and her hair was dirty. Cameron Quick was just as much an outsider so their friendship seemed destined. They found each other during elementary school and looked out for each other. Cameron was the one person Jennifer could count on. He made her feel safe and loved. Jennifer's world was turned upside down the day that she went to her elementary school and her enemy told her that Cameron had died. Jennifer's mother never denied that he had died so Jennifer was left to fend for herself. It is now eight years later and Jennifer is now Jenna. She has worked hard to lose weight and take care of herself. She has a new stepfather who cares for her and a new high school where she has friends and a boyfriend. While all of this is great, she is constantly on edge that her friends will find out about Jennifer. That fear is escalated when she gets a note from Cameron Quick on her birthday. She is shocked to find out that he is alive and living close by. His appearance stirs up emotions that she hasn't felt in years. She is drawn to Cameron much to the dismay of her boyfriend. The bond with Cameron is still there after all of these years and he forces her to confront what happened to them years ago that caused him to disappear.

Cameron's return causes Jenna to question all the choices has made. She has worked so hard to fit in and be normal but are all of those things what she really wants? Does she like her boyfriend or does she like the idea of having a boyfriend? She has gone along with her group of friends hoping to blend in but Cameron's attention makes her realize that she may not want to go along with them. Cameron is not afraid to ask her why she is putting herself through all of this when she clearly is not happy.

Cameron brings a lot of baggage with him but he also makes Jenna confront her baggage, in particular with her mother. She has always resented her mother for not being an involved parent and Cameron encourages her to hear her mother's side of the story.

Zarr's story about these friends who find each other after all these years apart is achingly sweet. It shows how you don't have to be physically with someone every day in order to be close to them.

This book includes references to sexual abuse and sexuality and would be appropriate for ages 12 and up.

 

© 2008 Amy Ridley

 

 

Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University.


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