About the book
Sweethearts is a stand-alone young adult book by Sara Zarr. The book was published by Little Brown on 5th February 2009 and it is 224 pages long.
Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick had two things in common as children. They were both social outcasts and the other’s only friend. Jennifer has come to depend on Cameron but when he disappears without a word, she thinks she has lost the only person who really understands her. Years later, Jennifer has transformed herself into Jenna, a girl who is popular, pretty and happy – everything that her former self wasn’t. However, she still thinks of her old best friend.
When Cameron suddenly reappears one day, both he and Jenna are forced to confront their pasts and the real reason why Cameron disappeared without telling anyone.
What I thought
Both the cover and the synopsis for this book are quite deceiving. The cover suggests this will be a nice romance story, with the big pink heart on the front cover. The synopsis is quite mysterious in the way that it doesn’t really reveal what the book is about at all apart from that Jennifer and Cameron were once friends and then he disappeared. There are no hints as to why or what went on in-between then and the time he comes back. I liked that I didn’t really know what I was getting into with this one.
At first, we get to see Jennifer and Cameron’s friendship through a series of flashbacks, explaining what their lives were like and how they didn’t fit in with anyone else. However, as we get to learn more about why the two are friends, we also get to see that it wasn’t just school lives that weren’t perfect. The flashbacks build up to one really important moment which changes everything and the real reason why Cameron left without a word. Not only did the flashbacks enable me to understand the friendship between Jennifer and Cameron but also to understand why Jennifer changed her name and herself.
After having such a bad childhood, I could completely understand why Jennifer would want to reinvent herself as soon as she moved and had the chance to be someone else. If that were me, having only the one friend, not being confident in myself and generally being picked on, I would have wanted to reinvent myself too. I was glad to see that although she was still missing Cameron, she had made a life for herself at a new school, had a great group of friends and had gotten herself a boyfriend.
When Cameron appears out of nowhere, the plot suddenly got extremely interesting. Cameron is extremely mysterious, letting barely anyone in except the Jenna, who he knows as Jennifer. He turns up without so much as an explanation as to why he disappeared without saying goodbye all those years ago but Jenna is determined to find out the truth. There are people who somehow know more than she does though and she isn’t happy that secrets have been kept from her for so long.
Sweethearts is a story about childhood friendships and how sometimes, a special one can withstand anything. Both Jennifer and Cameron were great characters to read about, both together and separately. Their personalities are quite different but that also makes them extremely interesting. The plot was not at all what I was expecting and instead of a cute romance, I got something quite sad and heart-breaking. However, I still really enjoyed this one.