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.This is a reread for me. I picked it up again because it’s the book my book club is discussing this month and I didn’t remember anything about it besides that I didn’t like it. So I was more than a little wary going into it, especially since Sara Zarr doesn’t tend to be an author I connect to much.
When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.
From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.
The big reason I didn’t like the book the first time around was the ending—it was too realistic and sad and didn’t have the amount of resolution I needed to be happy with it. But this time I went in prepared for the ending—I knew what to expect. And as a result, I appreciated it more. I’m not saying I’m a fan of the ending now, but now I can see how it fits the story. Cameron and Jenna’s relationship is multilayered and complex, and a straightforward, happy ending wouldn’t do them justice. They both have a lot of growing to do, and the ending that Zarr’s written for them allows them to do that.
Something I noticed this time that I didn’t before, is how consummately readable this book is. Yes, it’s a short book (only 217 pages), but the way the story flies by has less to do with its length than with how well-written it is. I think rereading this book has sold me on Sara Zarr as a writer. Her stories are always a little too bittersweet for me to totally fall in love with, but “Sweethearts” made me realize that, despite the bittersweet, I can’t argue with her writing and storytelling skills. They’re both exceptional in this book.
Overall, I’m glad I reread “Sweethearts.” It still isn’t one of my favorites, but this time around I could appreciate how well-done and well-thought out it all was. The first time I finished it, I just felt let down and frustrated, but this time I feel . . . pensive and thoughtful, I guess. Which I’m okay with.
Rating: 3 / 5