21 October 2009

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

For a Teen Librarian, I am behind the times when it comes to reading. I know this, and for the most part I've accepted it. I'm grateful for when I can read what I want, and the "popular books" often don't make it to the top of my pile. And "popular books" isn't just the Twilight series (which I have read) or the Percy Jackson series (which I haven't); "popular books" is pretty much anything that gets a lot of favorable talk, and doesn't need much hand-selling to teens looking for something to read from the library. That's why I tend to be slow to read books like the Harry Potter series, Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or, apparently, Sara Zarr's Sweethearts

Talk about a book you can read in a day! I knew that when I opened Sweethearts last night and read the first few pages that I should never have started what I couldn't finish. I had to sleep, so I only read about halfway through the book last night . . . and couldn't help but finish it this morning.

Cameron Quick was Jennifer Harris's only friend. They stood by each other when other kids called them weird (Cameron) or fat (Jennifer), and they really believed that they didn't need anyone else in order to be perfectly content. One day in third grade, Jennifer goes to Cameron's house after school, and what Cameron's dad makes them do changes both of their lives. And then Cameron and his dad disappear. The kids at school tell Jennifer that Cameron is dead, and Jennifer has no options left except to become Jenna and be a survivor. But what has really become of Cameron?

Sweethearts is, in many ways, a typical teen problem novel. But rather than being overly-dramatic or stuffed too chock-full of issues, there is nothing in this story that exists just to shock readers or pull at their heartstrings. Cameron and Jenna are real, three-dimensional characters who deal with their problems in the best ways they can, and they learn to live their lives with or without each other. The past is over, but the love never ends.

Recommended to high school readers, the insecure, the lonely, the loved, and the hopeful.
Call number: YA ZARR (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

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