Sweethearts – Sara Zarr

Synopsis from Goodreads.

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other’s only friend. SO when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she’d lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating—everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be. But she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.


“I do have more memories of Cameron, things I know for sure, good and bad. Like: (…) How us being together all the time made us a bigger target, the whole of our exile being greater than the sum of our outcast parts. How we didn’t care because we had each other.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I loved that ending and it was so perfect and exactly what would happen if this book was real life… but I couldn’t help being underwhelmed by the whole story. I wish I hadn’t started off my Zarr-ventures with How To Save a Life because that book spoiled me. But even though I wasn’t too struck with the story and the characters… the writing, in true Zarr form, was breath-taking and toe-tingling.

High Points.
Cameron. Jennifer. Drama club. The past. Strength. Friendship. Childhood. First loves. Security. Letters. Dollhouses. Family. Cheap, blue rings. That ending.

Low Points.
You know when you finish a book and you’re like: eh.
But you can’t pinpoint why? This was one of those books for me.
I didn’t like Jenna as a narrator and I’m not sure why. I wish this book had been told from Jennifer’s p.o.v, I connected with her a lot more and I would have loved to see what she would have come up with.
Also, and I hate to keep comparing it to HTSAL… but I’m gonna do it anyway, I so wish that this book was told from dual perspective. Cameron’s story was so compelling and the snapshots I got just wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel like I knew him at all.
I love the cover but it gives me the overwhelming urge to snaffle delicious sweet treats all the live long day.

Just building on more of what I said above, Jenna was a tricky heroine. I didn’t hate her and she wasn’t too dumb or that much of a push-over and she kind of had a good head on her shoulders.
I feel like I may need to use more italics to emphasize my point. It seemed like Jenna was just there.
She wasn’t making waves and I like my heroines to make waves.
Jennifer on the other hand (who was Jenna before she became Jenna… don’t worry, she’s not an alien. OR IS SHE?!) was brilliant. She was feisty, she was strong, she was no nonsense, but she was also vulnerable and I had a lot of time for her.
I just couldn’t help but think Jenna was a shell of what she used to be and it made me sad. Maybe that was the point…. But it still made me sad.

Love Interest. Hero.
Yeah, he’s a hero, right?
He’s definitely not a love interest… unless you count mine. Which then, yeah he’s totally a love interest.
Sorry… what was I saying?
Oh yes Cameron. Oooh Cameron. You little cherub.
I won’t talk too much about you because I think you’re background is best not known if you haven’t read the book.
But I loved you in the past, the present and the future. And I wish we’d heard things for your side.
Also, I always thought that sending anonymous bouquets of “sun golden” roses was the epitome of romance… and it still is.
But, let me tell you, making a girl a dollhouse for her birthday from scratch would come pretty damn close.

Theme Tune.

Whenever I listen to The XX is always have this urge to turn the lights off in my room, crawl under the covers and just immerse myself within their music.

“I’m setting us in stone
Piece by piece before I’m alone
Air tight before we break
Keep it in
Keep us safe”

Fragility, desperation, loss, hope, determination, love.
When I thought of Jenna and Cameron’s relationship, I instantly thought of this song.
It’s just stunning.
“I’ve been underwater
Breathin’ out and in
I’m think I’m losin’ where you end and I begin”

Boy Angst.
2/10. You’ll probably wonder why I’ve even bothered putting this in because the scoring is so low. But I wanted to include two points, not for Jenna, but for me. This is just a personal gripe but it annoys me so much:
Why do YA heroines always need a mysterious and sexy boy with dark hair to make them realise that their current boyfriend is dull, boring, chauvinistic and blonde not right for them?
Ethan: Whatever with you and your entire existence.

Sadness Scale.
8/10. You’ll probably wonder why, seeing as I’ve been whinging all the way through this review, I’ve given it such a high rating. This is all down to Ms Zarr’s ability to write emotion like it’s coming from her soul.
Or something equally as dramatic and metaphorical.
Her writing is so subtle and quiet but oh my gosh can she pack a punch when she wants to. Her writing is so raw and powerful that even though I wasn’t fussed about Jenna, I couldn’t look away just in case I missed a sentence that made my heart tremble.
We all know that there’s certain Aussie lady who can portray human emotions in this way (and when I say this I mean clutch at your heart and shake your soul and make your muscles ache with the beauty of the words and… um well, you get it) but I have to say, judging by the feeling of shock, awe, numbness and understanding I feel after I’ve finished one of her books, Ms Zarr is standing right beside her.
I don’t want to go into the nitty gritty of the story, because like I said, it’s best not knowing.
But this book is truly sad considering every thing that happens to the characters in the past and the present. However, the issues are dealt with tact, understanding and, most importantly, without judgement.

Recommended for.
People who like to read books that are about friendship. People who aren’t fussed about a clear happily-ever-after. People who like dollhouses. People who have ever wished they could press the reset button on their life. People who like it when they get notes in their lunchboxes. People who enjoy Milky Ways. People who have ever wondered what happened to their primary school crush. (Basically, he got HOT)

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