Sweethearts by Sara Zarr


Jennifer “Jena” Harris isn’t the girl she used to be. In her former life she was an awkward social outcast who knows what it’s like to be picked on because she was chubby, because she often cried, loudly and publicly, and because she had only one friend.

In her former life Cameron Quick was Jennifer’s best and only friend. He accepted her for the person she was: the chubby girl who often found comfort in food. And she accepted him for who he was: a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who was hiding a dark secret.

So when Cameron quickly disappears from school, from the neighborhood, from her life, Jennifer puts the past behind her. Now in high school, Jena is thin, has a group of friends that love her for who she is – or rather who they think she is – and even has a boyfriend who can’t seem to keep his hands off her. Life is near perfect.

That is, until Cameron Quick walks into her classroom and back into her life. Reunited after years apart they learn in order to keep moving forward, they need to take a step back and revisit the past they’ve both been trying to forget.

Sweethearts, written by author Sara Zarr, is a quick but fulfilling read.

Zarr’s writing is a driving force. It’s simple, but not overly so. She manages to weave a realistic story with threads of, both tension and romanticism. Every step of the way, readers will almost fear learning what Cameron’s dark secret is. While their fearing the worst, readers will also be swept up in Jena’s raw emotions that come rushing back the moment she sees Cameron.

There are many characters featured within the pages of Zarr’s Sweethearts, all of which readers will love. But of all of them, two really jumped off the page. Jena and Cameron. Both are multi-dimensional, realistic, and easy for readers to sympathize with. Jenna will feel like one of the girls, while Cameron will feel like the brooding stranger here to woo every girl in his path.

Beyond Jena and Cameron – the stars of Zarr’s Sweethearts – one other character really struck a chord: Jena’s stepfather. Unlike a lot of stepfather prototypes (I’ve read) in other books, he isn’t uninvolved. He’s an exceptional figure of stability and love to Jena, someone she can truly confide in. He isn’t just the man her mother married, in so many ways he’s the father she’s always wanted and needed.

Sweethearts and a book that will tug on reader’s heart-strings. It’s a lyrical story that will fit the tastes of any reader.