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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review of "Sweethearts" by Sara Zarr

SweetheartsRecently, I read an awesome post on Forever Young Adult about their all time favorite YA couples. So what am I doing now? Working my way down the list... because those gals know what the heck they're talking about! This post will also be the first post I add my "Why?" section.. which will just tell you all why I decided to read the book I'm reviewing. Because.. well, because I can.

Disclaimer: This book is a "library loot" item. I did not purchase this book, nor was I given it or any monetary incentive for a good review. But I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means click my linky, and I get a prize (aka.. a penny).

Type: YA Fiction, Old sweethearts, Childhood trauma, Finding yourself, Finding people you thought you lost

Why this book?: Because the FYA-ers said it was awesome, and I'm working my way through their Best YA Couples of All Time list

About the book: When Jennifer Harris was nine years old, she had a best (and only) friend - Cameron Quick. They were the Outcasts, the poor kids everyone else in school made fun of, but it didn't matter because they had each other. And they shared something more - a traumatic experience they couldn't tell anyone about. Shortly after that horrible day, Cameron disappeared, leaving her all alone. The other kids told her he died, and from that day on, she knew Jennifer Harris had to die with him. Now Jennifer is 17, and she goes by Jenna Vaughn, a new girl in a new school. But it's her birthday, and there's a birthday card in the mailbox from someone she thought was dead - Cameron is back.

I immediately regretted starting this book before I had to go to work. I should have waited until I got home, because I couldn't stop thinking about it. It had me hooked from page one, and I couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen. Part of that is because we only get bits and pieces of that traumatic day Jenna and Cameron shared when they were nine. We get a little bit more of it every couple chapters, and after every bit of that memory, I was practically shaking, worried what was going to happen next, and afraid for Jenna and Cameron. After rushing home and finishing it, I tried to explain to others my thoughts on this book, and all I could say was "It made me feel." I had to wait until now to try and review it, or talk about it.. just to give myself time to think it over.

I ached for Jenna, having lost her best friend so young. And then suddenly he's back, the same as he was, but she's not the person she used to be. After Cameron "died," she buried her old self and her memories as well, and completely changed who she was, but the old Jennifer is still there, and as the story progresses, you get to see more of who she really is, and how she's changing. And as Cameron comes back into her life, she starts to lose her Jenna Vaughn persona, and the life that goes with it. Jenna Vaughn had everything Jennifer Harris never did - except Cameron. And maybe he was the most important thing of all.

I loved the character interaction, the way these two had to grow up both apart and now that they're together. I absolutely loved this book, and I think that the author, Sara Zarr, cannot be complimented enough. I was a nervous wreck while reading this book, emotionally distraught the whole time.. and I know that's exactly how Jenna had to feel. It's been a while since I've felt such true worry or hurt while reading a book, and Zarr pulled it off perfectly.

As for the ending.. It's not the ending I expected, and maybe it's not the ending the reader wants, but it felt right. I was honestly worried as I neared the end that I wouldn't get an ending that would satisfy me, but Zarr came through. In a way, I thought it was an incredibly beautiful way to finish the story, though I'll always be a little bit upset at how everything and everyone turned out in the end.

So for a rating, I'm giving this book a FIVE out of FIVE (5/5). This book is going on my keeper shelf, I'm telling everyone I know that they simply MUST read it, and I know this will be a re-read over and over for me. As soon as I get over how it made me feel, anyways.

Have you read it? Share your thoughts in the comments. Want to read it? Get it from Amazon.com via the link on the left.

Until next time,
~!~ MG

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