Sweethearts | *Contains Spoilers*

Summary:

Thank you, Cameron Quick. You disappeared, so you don't know it, but you helped create Jenna Vaughn. She's the new and improved 17-year-old version of Jennifer Harris, the girl who was your friend in fifth grade! Jenna is a great girl 364 days a year. It's only on her birthday that Jennifer – that fat girl who cried and had no friends – surfaces and reminds her that her best friend Cameron disappeared that day. He left without a clue as to where he went. Just as quickly, he returns, and when he does, so do Jenna's memories and past feelings. A story of love both lost and found, Sweethearts is a touching story of growing up and dealing with the challenges life throws your way.


BTSYA / Teen Reader 1:
This is an enjoyable story for teens ages 13 to 15. It has an appealing story line that keeps readers interested and wanting to know what happens next. There is one thing about this book I did not like. The author made it hard to distinguish between the past and present. She would go back and forth at times, writing first in the present, then switching to the past without any notice. I found this confusing, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would recommend buying this book as a gift for teenagers or checking it out from the library. It is definitely worth reading, and I believe that most teenagers will appreciate it. It contains all the aspects of an interesting story line, and is something any teenager could enjoy.

BTSYA / Teen Reader 2 (16):
This book is very good. It has its flaws, as all books do, but I was captivated with the story from the very first page, enough so to finish it in one evening. It was funny, cute, romantic, and mysterious. The use of flashbacks and memories interwoven throughout made the plot so interesting and kept the story going. The suspense and tension really drove you to keep reading. Seeing everything through the eyes of older, present-day Jenna as well as younger, nine-year-old Jennifer made the story much deeper and more emotional.

My favorite part has to be the characters. There isn’t one character who seemed insignificant or unimportant, and each one was super well-developed. The banter between Jenna and her friends is great, and her interactions with Cameron are so sweet. The author also made a great character in Alan, Jenna’s stepfather, who is exactly what a parent should be.

Unfortunately, the ending is lacking. Jenna and Cameron’s relationship (both as friends and potential love interests) is built up through the entire novel, just to be left hanging in the last few chapters. We don’t get much closure with any of the characters, even Jenna, and it is from her point of view. While the ending provides great potential for a second book, it was anticlimactic, and if a sequel is not going to be written, we deserved more than what we got.

All in all though, this is a quick read, but a good one. It is short and sweet but still chock-full of great messages, moments, and memories. People of all ages could find something they love about the book, but since there are some mentions of more mature subjects (though not much at all), I’d say it is good for readers twelve and up. Definitely check it out when you have the chance!

Parent Perspective:
This is a touching, thoughtful story. Within the first couple of pages you get a glimpse of the story that will unfold, and you are wrapped up instantly. Jenna is a fabulous narrator, and the author does an outstanding job allowing her to let the story unfold in her own way. Although Jenna and Cameron are the main players, the author surrounds them with other central figures who add depth to their character and help the reader join the crowd. The presentation of the story in vignettes and lots of white space per page should make this attractive to reluctant readers, too.


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Teens (particularly girls) will enjoy this well-woven story of friendship, love, and growing up.

Content Awareness Factors:

None, really. There are several scenes that present pre-marital sex. They are ancillary to the plot, not central to it. Still, we know that some may find the mere mention objectionable.


Type of Book:
This is a YA novel that explores teen relationships and growing up. It is a high interest / low readability option.
Educational Themes:

Teens will enjoy reading the book "Just Because." Still, there are several themes to explore: eating disorders (binging), stealing, impulse control, abuse, abusive relationships, friendship, the price of popularity, self-esteem, and being true to yourself.

Reading Level:
4.4
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
12 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! This is likely to be a dog-eared book. Read, re-read, and shared. This is a perfect teen book club book.

Title Sweethearts
About
Author Sara Zarr
Publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers © 2008
ISBN 9780316014557
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Friendship, Realism | Realistic Fiction
be the star you are Cybils
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