Thursday, April 10, 2008

Zarr's Sweethearts

Despite the somehow cheerful cover, this was a deliciously sad book. The kind of book that gives you a dull, thudding pain in your chest because it is so sad. Jenna used to be a social outcast; overweight, shy, dressed in thrift store clothes. Her mother was too busy to spend much time with her. Her only friend was Cameron, who also had problems, but the two of them helped each other get through the tough times. At least, they did until Cameron suddenly disappeared. Fearing that he was dead because of his abusive father, Jenna improves her life. Her mother gets a better job, marries, and moves her to a new school where Jenna reinvents herself, loses weight, and becomes popular.

Then Cameron comes back, and Jenna must deal with the awful truths of the past, as well as with how Cameron changes, and somehow threatens, her current existence.

The one truth about adolescence is that nearly everyone loses at least one friend who means a lot. It's not always this wrenching, but I think that all teens can understand how hard this is for Jenna. There is some depiction of abuse and quasisexual experience, but it is carefully done and not objectionable. The only thing I wish would have been addressed more in this book was Jenna's disordered eating. She calms herself with stolen food, but this stops part way through the book, and she never seems to suffer any weight gain. Since food issues are also a big adolescent concern, this could have been an interesting addition. Maybe for the next book.

After reading it, the cover even seems sad. The partially eaten cookie. The crumbs.

A definite buy.

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