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Sweethearts    by Sara Zarr order for
by Sara Zarr
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Jennifer Harris and her only friend Cameron Quick are outsiders in a Mormon community. They suffer endless harassment and bullying during elementary school. Jennifer's single mother works two jobs and attends nursing school so Jennifer is always alone. Teary and overweight, she steals food for comfort. Cameron grows up in a home with an abusive father. His actions are often suicidal.

On Jennifer's ninth birthday, something happens at Cameron's house that they never mention or tell others about. Soon after, Cameron disappears and Jennifer is told that he died.

When her mother marries, Jennifer moves across town and transforms herself into Jenna Vaugh. Jennifer Harris is now as dead as Cameron Quick. Slender, cheerful, and popular at the small charter school where she attends high school, she still can't forget Cameron and what he meant to her.

On her seventeenth birthday, Jenna finds a card in her mailbox signed, 'Love, Cameron Quick.' The card was delivered by hand and Jenna is sure it is genuine. If Cameron is not dead, where has he been all these years and why didn't he contact her?

Sweethearts is written in first person with flashbacks of Jenna's memories of elementary school. Jennifer Harris and Jenna Vaugh become one when Cameron returns. Zarr has written a dark, but loving story about two children who share a tragic childhood.

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