Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Module 2: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Zarr, Sara. Sweethearts: a Novel. New York: Little, Brown and, 2008. Print. ISBN: 0-316-01455-7

Growing up, Jennifer Harris had it very tough. She was an outcast from a young age, with no friends and little support at home. Then she met Cameron Quick. An outcast himself, Cameron and Jennifer became best friends. Jennifer knew that Cameron’s home life was scary, but she also knew that he would also be there for her...until he wasn’t. Disappearing from her life altogether, Jennifer had to put the pieces of her life back together. Now known as Jenna, Cameron has reentered her life eight years after he left it. Jenna, not an outcast anymore, starts have feelings that she has not experienced in years. Jenna says, “I think about how there are certain people who come into your life, and leave a mark. I am talking about the ones who, for whatever reason, are as much a part of you as your own soul.”

As readers take in Sweethearts, each of them will see a part of themselves in Jenna and Cameron. All of us, at one point and time or another, has felt like the outcast. That is the part of our hearts that goes out to Jennifer and Cameron, and then to “Jenna” as she tries to not let "Jennifer" take back over her life. By being set in Utah and Cameron and Jenna NOT being Mormon, there was already a layer of being an outcast just through the setting. When Cameron comes back, the first thing that comes to mind is that a romance is going to start between the two, but that is not what is important in this story...even if the title is Sweethearts. As the book goes on, you realize that forgiveness is much more important, as well as being true to yourself. “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,” is what Booklist starred review had to say. “The main characters, and their unique bond, are well drawn and believable. Jenna struggles to see the child she was more clearly, to find a way to integrate her past into her present and to work toward self-acceptance. Despite its title, Sweethearts is not saccharine; it is substantial,” School Library Journal agreed. All in all, Sweethearts is the perfect read for students who are trying to find themselves.

This book would be perfect to use in library book club. Girls struggle with accepting themselves will find a refreshing look on things though Sweethearts. Discussions about self-image, bullying, home life, and friendship could be talked about for many sessions.

Krippner, Leah. "Sweethearts." School Library Journal (2008). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, 2008. Web. 25 Sept. 2010.

"Sweethearts." Booklist 104.9 (2008). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, 2008. Web. 25 Sept. 2010.

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