Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Zarr, Sara. 2008. SWEETHEARTS. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316014557 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
In this young adult novel, two teenagers that haven’t seen each other in years reconnect to delve into their painful past. Jenna Vaughn is a popular high school senior with a boyfriend and close circle of friends. She wasn’t always accepted by her peers, though. Before her mother remarried and moved the new family to another school district Jenna had been known as Jennifer, an overweight outcast and the object of her classmates’ cruel taunts. Her only friend was Cameron Quick, another loner that protected Jennifer from the other students and truly understood her. Together the two best friends supported each other through a painful abusive situation. When Cameron’s family mysteriously moved with no warning, Jennifer was left alone and began the process of reinventing herself. Eight years later Jenna enjoys her new persona, but is surprised to find that Jennifer won’t stay quiet after Cameron reappears in her life.
Sara Zarr presents a sensitive subject thoughtfully with kindness. As Cameron gently forces Jenna to confront their abusive encounter with his father, she finally begins to accept the pain of her past without hiding her true self.
This book addresses a difficult subject, but would lead to thoughtful discussions about relationships. Readers might also want to talk about the painful effects of school bullying and harassment on students that don’t fit in with their peers.
Other books for young adults about abusive relationships or social outcasts:
Anderson, Laurie Halse. SPEAK. ISBN 9780141310886
Giles, Gail. SHATTERING GLASS. ISBN 9780689858000
Zarr, Sara. STORY OF A GIRL. ISBN 9780316014533
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird