Brooke Shirts's Reviews > Sweethearts

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
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's review
May 05, 08

really liked it
bookshelves: to-read, books-read-in-2008
Read in May, 2008

Whoa. Such a tearjerker -- and I mean that in a good way. The story of Jennifer and Cameron is darn bittersweet. The two of them are social outcasts in elementary school and best friends, and when he suddenly disappears, she's devestated.

Fast forward nine years: Jennifer has moved, gotten a great stepfather, lost weight, and has a pretty boyfriend in the popular crowd. She feels like a phony, though -- that her unpopular child self is still lurking over her shoulder. When Cameron reappears, she's dumbfounded by how different her life is from his, and begins to reevaluate herself, her friends, her past, her family -- wellll, everything. Zarr has a real ear for realistic teenage crises; this is one solid book.

Bonus material: I had no idea that Zarr is a native of Salt Lake City, where this book is set. I went to college in SLC and am about to move back there next month after a seven-year absence. Zarr has managed to accurately capture certain flavors of the city: the small charter schools for kids who are "too creative, too smart, or just too non-Mormon"; the endless blocks of "ivory, taupe, beige, cream, grey" housing developments, the clattering of aspens.

Even Cameron seems a particularly western-American character: the silent, strong type, escaping a horrific past to strike out on his own and make his way in the world on sheer strength alone. Set this book a generation or two back, and he'd be packing a six-shooter and heading for prospector country.
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