Sweethearts Review

16 Aug



As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another’s only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she’s lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she’s popular, happy, and dating, everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be—but she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend. When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

What did I just read?

There are just so many things wrong with this book, it’s not even funny. I mean, I understand that the book is for kids 12 years old and older, but seriously?

The book is told through Jennifer’s (“Jenna’s”) POV, and the story centers around her relationship with her childhood best friend, Cameron Quick. It touches on issues such as bullying, weight problems, abuse, and neglect.

For a book that had so much potential, it fell flat. Completely and utterly flat.

The message was weak and underdeveloped. What are the kids supposed to learn from this? Jenna changed everything about herself to fit in, and she got some friends. During the time where she’s supposed to learn something important about herself, she doesn’t. She goes on living her life. Literally, the message is, “When you change yourself to please others, you’ll get awesome results and you’ll almost be able to function like a human being!”. This is not the message that a book like this should be sending.

I mean, if the kids were to write an essay they’d probably offer up easy thematic statements like: “Bullying is bad” and “Don’t change yourself to please other people”. Which are great lessons, all in all, but when I was 12, I could come up with a teacher-approved remark like that at a drop of a hat. The theme that the story really conveyed would NOT be teacher-approved.

When I was 12, I used to read books that meaningfully conveyed a message about growing up and life struggles that made me think of those issues in a different light. I didn’t need a book to tell me something I knew. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe this is something that kids don’t know (doubtful) and need to be told bluntly.

The character development was non-existent. Jenna changes herself to please others and doesn’t develop beyond that. She continues to live a lie and whines about how much she wishes other people knew the real her. The end.

Cameron Quick is just pointless. I really don’t know much about him, even after the whole book. I know he was abused as a kid (and onwards into young adulthood) and his best friend was Jennifer and she meant a lot to him. He leaves and comes back and there’s nothing that he offers up about himself. It’s like he’s an empty shell of a character who came and went, not teaching us anything or allowing the protagonist to change. There’s a void. He was completely empty.

The intense relationship Cameron and Jenna should have doesn’t exist, either. I don’t understand the relationship that Sara Zarr created for these two. They’re not lovers. They’re not close friends. They’re two people who knew each other a long, long time ago. What I felt between the two is what I feel doing mundane tasks. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, getting ready for bed. It just didn’t impact me.

There is no climax.  There’s nothing that gets messed up and put back together, there’s no realization of any lesson or anything. The book had a flatline.

And speaking of a flatline, it also lacked emotion. I didn’t feel an ounce of anything towards the characters of these books. Usually, bully books strike a chord easily for me. I’ve spent a great deal of my life on teams and committees and clubs against bullying and drugs and buying bottled water. These issues have always meant a great deal to me because I like inserting myself into things and trying to at least make a small dent of a difference. I’ve made speeches and wrote essays and just basically geeked out on these topics before I even knew how to spell my own name. So, as a result, I’ve read tons of books that have all somehow made a contribution to the cause. This was not one of them.

I felt like a robot after reading this book. There’s really not much I can say to compliment the book. The editing was good and the plot idea had potential. The beginning had a great hook and, honestly, I did want to finish this book. I wanted to see how this would end, but not because I was so in love with the story. I wanted to see if, miraculously, the book would find a pulse and somehow weave a story that would take my breath away and at least earn three stars from me.

It didn’t. This book has earned one star from me. I would not recommend it for anyone to read. This book is too simple to have been written for the age group that it has been written for. I would maybe recommend this to people in grade 4 or 5, but certainly not grade 7. If this book was written for 12-year-olds, it seriously failed in its job to provide a meaningful message.


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