Friday, June 20, 2008


Sara Zarr

Jenna Vaughn has remade her life. When she was in elementary school she was Jennifer Harris – the girl that was tortured, called “Fattifer” and stole things and binge-ate. She was also Cameron Quick’s best friend. Now she is seventeen and is Jenna Vaughn. She goes to a different school, has a wonderful stepfather, and is thin and healthy. What nobody realizes that it’s all a sham – inside herself Jenna is just pushing Jennifer aside, and acting the way she knows will make her popular, will make her fit in. She even has her first boyfriend.

But inside herself, Jenna is still wounded. Cameron Quick is gone – Jenna has heard that he’s dead – and his disappearance from her life has left a hole in it. It is evident from the beginning of the book that Cameron’s father was abusive and that there was a traumatic event that involved Jenna, Cameron, and his father. Jenna has never told her mother what happened to her, and she has never been able to work through it.

Then on her seventeenth birthday, Jenna finds a card in her mailbox – a card addressed to Jennifer Harris. It is from Cameron and he is back and he’s enrolled in her school. Jenna’s life is thrown into turmoil. She begins to binge eat and steal candy from stores. Her boyfriend is quite naturally threatened by Cameron’s presence. Jenna doesn’t know what she wants. She doesn’t want to be Jennifer Harris, but she’s not truly happy as Jenna Vaughn. And then there is the traumatic event that is still haunting her.

Sweethearts is a sad novel – that’s obvious from the beginning. It is also beautifully written. It’s a great book for the 8th – 10th grade group who will be able to relate to Jenna’s efforts to change herself in order to survive socially. They will also be old enough to understand how much of herself Jenna has to sacrifice in order to change.

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