Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Teens (2008)
MSRP (Hardback, USA): $16.99
Rating: * * * */ 5
Sweethearts is a bittersweet novel about Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick. Both social outcasts, Jennifer and Cameron were each other's only best friend in childhood. Their love was something rare- more than just physical. No relationship would ever be enough for what they felt. (Eep, I sound so sappy, don't I?) More than just sweethearts.
But then, one day in fifth grade, Cameron disappears, and Jennifer is led to believe he is dead. Why else would he not call or visit her?
Then, in Jennifer's senior year of high school, he reappears in her life. But Jennifer is a different person than she was- now known as Jenna Vaughn, she's pretty, popular and dating. Everything Jennifer wanted to be but couldn't be. But now that Cam is back in her life, can they be sweethearts again?
(Wow, that was pretty good, considering it's so late and I had to wing that description :D)
My mascara is all smudgy now. I managed not to cry until the end, but then... I just couldn't help it. Bittersweet endings are always what get me :_)
So, let's break it down, shall we?
The characters: Ms. Zarr created a truly wonderful character with Jenna. Personally, I just couldn't, like, get into her like you have to the characters in a book. But that's just me. She had just the right tone- well, most of the time. Sometimes she came off a little too, "Poor me". But you could tell she really loved Cam, but she loved Ethan, her boyfriend, too- just in different ways. The emotions and relationships between the characters were rich, deep, complicated, and really satisfying to read about. You could feel everything they felt, all the love, hurt, pain, joy- that's immeasurably important in a book.
I did, however, feel like Cam was a bit too underdeveloped. He just seemed so... PERFECT.
The plot: SUCH an original, fantastic plot! And I was so glad that Ms. Zarr didn't cop out on the ending. That would have been so easy to do in the situation (I'm trying to be vague so as not to spoil the plot), but she gave it a bittersweet ending- like I said, the best kind :) However, it was a bit vague. So many things were left without answers- what happened with Jenna and Ethan? What about Cameron? Some people might not be satisfied with it, and walk away feeling let down. Not me, but that's just a warning for you. But don't let it keep you from reading the book!
Also, I loved how it handled so many issues, and how gracefully Zarr handled them. It covered everything from eating disorders to abuse to first love to breakups to religion and back again, all without being too graphic and obvious about it. That's not something you see much in books.
The writing: Oh, wonderful writing. It's written in a way that you feel like you are Jenna, and like you do love Cam but you love Ethan too, and don't even know if you can be with Cam. It describes the emotions in detail without getting boring, and it's fresh and original.
A wonderful, touching (usually I don't use words like that to describe books. It's 11:10- oooh! Make a wish in a minute!- and I can't think of anything better) book, I definitely recommend it if you don't have trouble with endings that aren't so perfect.
By the way, I'm LOVING this cover! Great lettering font, with the bubble letters, great color scheme, and the cookie is mesmerizing- LOL. That's mainly what made me pick it up in the first place- other than the fact that I REALLY want to read Once Was Lost, which comes out in October, by this author and I'd heard she's great. Which is correct!