What attracted me to this book initially was the cover (I saw it at the Little Brown stand in Bologna) – doesn’t that frosted cookie look yummy? I also liked the jacket copy: “Sweethearts is about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.” So yeah, not exactly high concept, but I like to read “quieter” books every now and then too. And this one was just lovely.
High School Senior Jenna Vaughn has a cute boyfriend Ethan, tons of friends and seems to have it all together. But she still carries the scars of a solitary childhood – one in which her harried single mother didn’t seem to have time for her and she only had one friend – fellow outcast and first love Cameron Quick who disappears one day without explanation.
When Cameron suddenly reappears years later, Jenna must come to terms with a traumatizing event in her past, confront her mother about her abandonment issues, and figure out what place Cameron, Ethan, and her new friends have in her life.
I found the story and Jenna’s character arc to be very authentic. I have to admit, my first instinct was to scoff when I found out how relatively tame the “traumatic event” was – I mean it is very far from Cupcake Brown’s childhood as she describes in her memoir A Piece of Cake (I urge you to check it for a great true story of triumph over adversity). Upon further reflection, I realized that within Jenna’s scope of experience and from her narrow point of view, this one event was in fact earth-shattering.
The writing is top notch throughout and I’d be hard pressed to come up with a last chapter that is more beautifully expressed than this one. This book really makes you think about how certain people have touched your life and left a lasting mark in your heart.