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Sweethearts : a novel
Book
2008
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Zarr's debut novel, Story of a Girl (2007), drew many teen readers with its heartbreaking depiction of a girl whose identity is defined by a mistake made when she was 13. Her second novel speaks to the deep friendships that grow among young people who have suffered trauma. At age nine, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were school outcasts and each other's only friends. After Cameron's father verbally abused them and tried to force the children to engage in sexual activity with each other, Jennifer and Cameron escaped, but they never told anyone of the incident. Cameron and his family abruptly left town, and Jennifer was told that Cameron had died. Now 17, Jennifer has changed her name and her image: pretty, popular Jenna has an equally pretty and popular boyfriend and is a model of self-confidence and responsibility. Then new student Cameron arrives, and Jenna's world turns upside down. Her strong bond with Cameron is still there, and together they attempt to confront their shared past. Zarr's writing is remarkable. Through Jenna's matter-of-fact first-person narrative, she conveys great delicacy of feeling and shades of meaning, and the realistic, moving ending will inspire excellent discussion.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

After years working to achieve popularity, Jenna tries not to think about elementary school: the lisp, the tears, the fat. When her childhood soul mate Cameron Quick miraculously reappears, Jenna's carefully cultivated persona begins to unravel. Tension builds asreaders wonder how long Jenna cankeep up appearances, what made Cameron vanish so many years ago and whether the two will consummate their love.Jenna and Cameron's preternatural bond remains at the core of this original story. Readers will find their fascinating connection at once believable and unfathomable. Intermittent flashbacks cast a murky, nightmarish hue and culminate to reveal a horrific moment that united Jenna and Cameron forever. This haunting and ultimately hopeful novel asserts what many teens feel acutely: that childhood experiences often leave indelible marks. A convincing, first-personnarrative voice makes the painful ramifications of exclusion palpable. The costs of popularity, eating disorders and abuse also find resonance. Zarr transfixes teen readers with enticing explorations of identity and enduring love. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
After losing her soul mate, Cameron, when they were nine, Jennifer, now seventeen, transformed herself from the unpopular fat girl into the beautiful and popular Jenna, but Cameron's unexpected return dredges up memories that cause both social and emotional turmoil.
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