Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr, isn’t an easy book. Like her magnificent Story of a Girl, it’s a tough story about coming to terms with one’s past. When. Bad. Things. Happen. The writing is so wonderful and the relationships so poignant, I got lost in this heartbreaking story.
Jennifer and Cameron are social outcasts and best friends as children. But one day he moves away without a word of goodbye. Jennifer is devastated and somehow buries that part of her forever. She loses weight, changes schools, and keeps order in her life. Her mother’s circumstances change too, placing Jennifer now Jenna in a nice home with two caring parents. But inside she’s still that scared and hurt kid. When Cameron comes back, those memories come with him. And some are so terrible she can barely face them down.
Sara Zarr builds up the tension of the past by using excerpts of memory from that time. The characters are imperfect and well-developed. No cookie-cutter stereotypes for this writer. The emotional tenor is complicated and realistic. Sweethearts was universally loved around the kids’ lit blogs and at Amazon with all five-star reviews and I’m glad that I got the chance to experience it myself. I just wish that I had better mental resources right now to review it properly. But I’m coming to the end of my 48 hours, and I’m getting pretty worn out. (Sorry, Sara, you deserve better.)