Sweethearts

by Sara Zarr

Jennifer Harris is teased mercilessly by her elementary-school classmates, who call... read more

Jennifer Harris is teased mercilessly by her elementary-school classmates, who call her “Fattifer” and make fun of her lisp. Her only friend is another social outcast, Cameron Quick. Jennifer and Cameron have a connection that helps them both survive tough times at home and at school. When Cameron disappears suddenly in fifth grade, rumors circulate that he has died. Jennifer’s overworked single mother will only say that he has “gone to a better place.” Fast-forward to Jennifer’s senior year in high school. She’s moved, changed her name to Jenna, and lost weight; in short, she has completely reinvented herself. Now she has a gorgeous boyfriend and hangs with the popular kids. Her life seems to be picture-perfect until Cameron shows up as a new student at her school. Cameron’s reappearance makes Jenna reevaluate who she really is and who her friends are, as well as question why her mother lied to her so many years before, letting her believe Cameron was dead. She must also face the frightening event that happened to her and Cameron when they were nine, something that is slowly and skillfully revealed to readers through a series of flashbacks. In her second novel, Sara Zarr once again shows her gift for portraying teens living on the margins through complex childhood and adolescent social dynamics. Her understated depiction of the conflict in Jenna’s family, and keen look at the dynamics of family abuse that have clouded Cameron’s life, adds further depth and verisimilitude to an original and engaging novel. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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