Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Book Title/Author: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Publisher/Year: Little Brown 2008
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: How To Save A Life, Story Of A Girl, Once Was Lost

Amazon| Goodreads |Sara Zarr’s Website

Got this little beaut at the library!





Jennifer Harris used to be THAT girl in school — the one that always got made fun of and who was a complete social outcast. Her best friend, Cameron, was her one and only friend in school so when Cameron disappears randomly so does the old Jennifer. Fast forward a little bit and once social outcast Jennifer is now pretty and popular, well-liked Jenna who has a boyfriend — something she thought she’d never have.ย  On the outside she may have changed but on the inside she still hurts from Cameron’s disappearance so when Cameron mysteriously reappears in her life it hits her hard and she has a hard time reconciling her old self that Cameron knew versus who she has become.

I am definitely a new found Sara Zarr fan! This was just straight-up excellent contemporary YA. It’s not flashy or trying too hard — it’s incredibly authentic and sweet yet tells the really heartbreaking story of two friends who share a whole lot more than just your typical elementary bffs type memories.

I instantly fell in love with Jennifer and also Cameron. Their relationship as kids was just so beautiful and pure — they had a friendship that was so strong because everyone else rejected them. I felt so badly for them but loved that they had each other. And when the book fast forwards to “Jenna” I really loved her too. Zarr really wrote her in a way that you could totally understand her desire to change who she was and get a fresh start but you could feel that deep conflict in her soul where Jennifer and Jenna warred — with Cameron, who accepted Jennifer, being at the heart of it. Zarr creates some really well developed characters in this novel that felt incredibly realistic. And Cameron’s story — so sad!

The thing I loved MOST about this book was that it was a book about friendship — true friendship. Two incredibly broken people who could find solace and love in each other when they were young and again when they found each other again. I truly thought this book would be a sweet little romance and that’s not at all what I got. I feel I got something way more. It didn’t have that forced romance plot and I loved that. Their friendship ran so deep and they shared that secret and I just felt how hard it was for each one of them to deal with it on their own so when they came together again Sara Zarr just created this intense feeling of longing, confusion and unfinished business. There were so many things that were left unsaid with the two of them and I loved how you could just feel the intensity of it.

I’ll say that I personally thought the ending was quite fitting. I felt hopeful and just sad to see their story end. The ending actually did kind of surprise me just because I totally thought I’d predicted what was going to happen. I know a lot of people were wanting more resolution but I was fine without everything all tied up neatly in a bow for this story.

After only one Sara Zarr book I know I’ll be racing back to my library to pick up all of her books because she is a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary YA world. This story of a beautiful friendship was unexpected for me and touched me more deeply than I realized until I was done. The characters were just incredible & the way Sara Zarr unraveled this story and their secretย  from the beginning to end was perfect.


For Fans Of: Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Ockler


Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Were you satisfied with the ending or were you wishing for more resolution? Have you read any of Sara Zarr’s other novels? Which was your favorite?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Never heard of it nor did I see it around .. BUT it does sounds soo super cute as I am right now in a Contemporary phase and look for everything cute! Emotional and buried secrets? I am sold!

    • I think you should definitely pick it up! I think the cover makes it look WAY more cute than it is. I certainly didn’t think it would be so emotional!

  2. Love that you loved this book! I did too, and I am also a fan of the ending, though I know most people wanted more of a romantic conclusion. The friendship aspect was just perfect to me.

    Read Story of a Girl next, it is even better and my fave of Sara’s books.

    • I’m so happy that you were also a fan of the ending!! I thought it was JUST perfect!

      I saw Story of A Girl at my library so I’ll be picking that one up soon! I do have How To Save A Life so I’ll probably get to that one first!

      Thanks for your comment! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’ve read one Sarah Zarr book and loved it! I don’t know why I haven’t picked up any of her others. I’m sure they are all fabulous!

    • I’ve always heard how fabulous she was but am so finally I actually found it out for myself! One of those authors I want to make sure I read ALL of her books!

  4. I really want to read this Sara Zarr book – I’ve had it on request from the library for ages! I’ve read Story of a Girl, which I enjoyed, so hopefully I’ll get my hands on this one at some point. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great review!

    • Oh I hope it comes in for you soon! I’ll probably read How To Save A Life next because I own it but then it’s Story of A Girl after that because I’ve heard SO many people tell me it should be my next! Thanks for your comment!

  5. Jamie – did you know this book is currently sitting on my shelf?

    I know.
    But you have inspired me, my friend. I shall read it soon!

  6. alright alright next time i’m at the library, i will definitely be picking up a sara zarr book! i have been meaning to read her for ages but now i will finally do it. i love that it’s a straight up contemporary and LOVE that it’s about friendship, one of my favourite subjects!

  7. This was a really cute book. AND it was one where I was all “OMG they ended it like THAT?” when actually (much later on) I appreciated the open ending. Sometimes I like drawing my own conclusions.

  8. Love Sara’s stuff. Suggest “Once Was Lost” when you get a chance and of course her latest. She’s a great writer and person.

  9. absolutely love this review so so much. this is one of my favourite YA books – you are SO right; this is a book about friendship and how beautiful and fragile they can be. Zarr is such a powerful writer – her words pack such an emotional punch that they leave you reeling, days, months, even years after reading them. looking forward to seeing what you think of her other books, which are just as extraordinary.

    • <33 This was on your list that you wrote at BEA so I'm slowly crossing out my Carla Books! And I've LOVED all of them so far!

  10. I remember reading this book by Sara Zarr the only book of hers I’d ever read of hers. I really liked it and agree that even though it was a short story the punch of emotions aren’t lacking one bit. I’ve heard Save A Life is outstanding and can’t wait to get a copy! Great review Jamie ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. We absolutely concur with your review! This was our first Sara Zarr as well…her talent is almost fearful, she makes it look so easy to tell such a fantastically simple story. We think she captures the emotional arc needed for a contemporary that stays in your mind long after finishing. So glad to see Sweethearts is still making the rounds!!

  12. Cameron MOTHER EFFING Quick FOREVA.

    I wish there was more resolution though.

    PLUS, I listened to the audio and wasn’t in love with it. Thus, when I read her other books I will be doing the print versions.

  13. I so love this book. It was my first Sara Zarr and I was super impressed how she avoided the cliches and what I expected to happen. I thought the ending fit the story really well.
    I definitely recommend her other books. Sweethearts is my favorite, then How to Save A Life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I have yet to read something by Sara Zarr, but you and Magan have made me think I should remedy that – and soon. Sweethearts sounds incredible, and I love that the mystery of what happened to make Camerone leave intrigues me. I definitely want to pick this one up!

  15. Another top review for this book! I like Sara a lot… I’ve only read Story of a Girl and I bought How to Save a Life almost a year ago (eek) and still have not read it. I am terrible. Too much book buying this year.

    And yay for true friendship. That’s nice to see.


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  4. […] Readers- May 2013 Genres: Contemporary YA Format: ARC Source: For Review Other Books From Author: Sweethearts, How To Save A Life, Story of A Girl, Once Was Lost, Roomies Amazon โ€ข Goodreads โ€ข […]