Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Review: Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr

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.


Melissa Walker said...

I really do want to read this one... wishlist: added!

Anonymous said...

I loved Sweethearts. I kept thinking the "traumatic" event was going to be more...well traumatic as well, however, it had the potential to be more horrific and it was nice to actually see a teen escape, however narrowly, such a horrific experience.


Liviania said...

Sounds like a nice novel, and I'm now curious about the "traumatic" event.

Jacqueline Decker said...

I just finished this book - and loved it. I liked how the tramatic event was uncovered in bits and pieces. After it was all said and done I appreciated that it wasn't overly tramatic and that Jenna could look back to see the strength Jennifer had.

Alea said...

This is coming out in paperback soon and I'm totally going to buy it! And hopefully read it sometime relatively soon!

Katie said...

was anyone else sorta sad about the ending? i mean there were so many possiblities: Jenna/jennifer couldve moved to CA or something... i dont know i feel like the ending left me unsasified... i wish there was a sequal.. anyone know if theres gonna be one?? *sigh* =/