Monday, June 4, 2012

Rewind & Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Published: February 1, 2008 by Little, Brown Books
Received: Bought at TLA for the author signing
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. {}

Such a beautifully, quiet book which I feel has slipped under the radar in most contemporary YA bookshelves.  As soon as I mentioned I was reading this book, a few professed their love for this story - which no doubt encouraged my want to read it even more.  I love those soft spoken books, the ones who don't always receive a lot of hype, and then take you by total surprise at just how gorgeous their story ends up being.  This was my first experience with a Sara Zarr book and I must say, this woman is an excellent story-teller.  Her ability to capture so much raw emotion, yet throwing in those subtle hints of deeper meanings really grabbed my attention.  I read this book practically in one sitting.  It's one of those stories you can't put down until you experience it from cover to cover.

Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick are childhood friends, socially banned from the norms of every day elementary life.  They are the two children you see sitting at the table clear across the cafeteria, away from everyone and everything else.  They are the two children who lean on each other when there is nothing left standing for support.  Bad things happen in both Jennifer and Cameron's worlds, yet they rely on one another to pull each other out the other side.  One day Cameron is suddenly gone.  Jennifer is left in ruins and utterly alone.  The one person who understood her fears and accepted her flaws was no longer a part of her world.  Left devastated and unsure of how her lifeless world will continue, Jennifer pulls herself together, but really she closes her self off and becomes what she thinks is the only way to be accepted.  She becomes her worst nightmare.

It wasn't until Cameron showed back up eight years later in Jennifer's life, now known as Jenna, that her facade begins to crack and the true girl she kept buried all those years because of Cameron's absence truly begins to emerge.  I loved experiencing the relationship then and now between Jenna and Cameron.  Her memories were suppressed for so long, yet Cameron remembered them as if they occurred yesterday.  The beauty of childhood friendships, especially theirs, is something that is untouchable.  Their innocence and bravery shined when they were just children, yet broke as they grew older.  It was a constant battle of doing what was right, and doing what was socially accepted.  Jenna struggled with this, every day.

The message behind this story was quietly dropped at the end, but left a very lasting impression.  The idea that people are all put in our lives for different reasons, at different times, and what we choose to do with those relationships, weighs heavily on the kind of person we want to be.  Sara Zarr writes from Jenna's point of view about Cameron, "I think about how there are certain people who come into your life, and leave a mark.... In the end, I decide that the mark we've left on each other is the color and shape of love. That's the unfinished business between us. Because love, love is never finished."  Beautiful.

Rewind & Review is a monthly feature hosted by Lisa is Busy Nerding & myself, that showcases older books from our collection to read & review.


  1. A beautiful review for a beautiful book! I read this a few months ago, and I'll find myself still thinking of it at times. It was my first Sara Zarr book too. She really seems to understand the human condition, and writes in a way that really speaks to your heart. I can't wait to read some of her other books! I'm so glad you enjoyed it Ginger :)

  2. I read this book a few years ago and loved it!

  3. Ok, slipping this book in my suitcase for vacation! I like great quiet books that fall under the radar. :) Great review, G!

  4. What a wonderful review, Ginger. I just added it to my list of books to look for the next time I'm at the bookstore. There are a couple people from my childhood that I think have been lost to me forever, and I would do almost anything to reconnect with them again.

    I am now immensely curious about this book and want to thank you for the heads-up! :-)

  5. I've really loved all Sara Zarr's books, but I haven't read this one. I think you are correct -- it kind of slipped under the radar -- at least for me. I'm going to put it on the list (I have it in the library, so I just need to get to it!) Thanks!

  6. This book sounds so gorgeous and touching. I'm really looking forward to checking it out now.

  7. Wow, lovely review Ginger. This sounds like a beautiful story :)
    Definitley adding this to my TBR.

  8. I read this book a while ago in middle school and I loved it. It was such a sweet book and opened the world of books to me. Cameron was sooo sweet and it was just...I don't know how to describe it. Amazing.

    Great Review

  9. Great review!
    I actually think this is my least favorite book by Sarah Zarr, but it was pretty good.

  10. This is one of my favorite books, although I really like Zarr's Once was Lost too. That ending? Amazing.

  11. Would read this!
    I love your review. ♥

  12. Wow I adore that quote. I am adding it to my list *clicks button* *list explodes*

  13. You've portrayed this book so beautifully. The cover is already intriguing, but after reading your review, I feel like I must read this. It sounds like the kind of story that I would definitely love.


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