Synopses & Reviews
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.
From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.
"This book about a former misfit who must face her troubled childhood is dark and engrossing, thanks to Zarr's (Story of a Girl) full-bodied characters and creative storytelling. Through well-timed flashbacks, thin, popular high school senior Jenna remembers being fat Jennifer, who along with her best friend, Cameron, endures teasing in elementary school and a hard home life (her single mother is almost never home, and his abusive father traumatizes both children). After Cameron moves away, Jennifer's cruel classmates tell her he has died, and her mother corroborates the story; readers may find it hard to believe the subsequent revelation that she has, in fact, lied. But they will appreciate how honestly Jenna reveals the toll it takes on her when Cameron suddenly reappears, transferring into her senior class (she starts stealing and binge-eating again); their rekindled connection forces her to decide if 'Jenna' is really who she wants to be. There is harsh material here, in the characters' presents as well as their pasts: Cameron is now an emancipated minor, and Jenna's family temporarily takes him in when he becomes homeless. Flashbacks to a horrifying episode with Cameron's father are revealed slowly and carefully, filling readers with a sense of dread, but ultimately her memories teach Jenna something surprising about her own strength. Other realistically flawed characters, from a mother who must learn truly to help her daughter to Cameron himself, round out this complex and bittersweet story of friendship and the meaning of 'unfinished business.' Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Zarr's sophisticated writing style, bouncing back and forth in time, teasing readers with further details, is wonderful. The main characters, and their unique bond, are well drawn and believable." School Library Journal
"This haunting and ultimately hopeful novel asserts what many teens feel acutely: that childhood experiences often leave indelible marks." Kirkus Reviews
"Jennifer makes hard decisions that hurt people in the process, but in this highly suspenseful novel, she finally discovers what true friendship means." KLIATT
As children, Jennifer and Cameron were best friends. After Cameron disappears, Jennifer has lost the only person who understands her. Now in high school, she is shocked when he suddenly reappears, and they are both confronted with the drastically different paths their lives have taken. Little, Brown and Company
Cara has always dreamed of being a Populazzi, one of the popular crowd. But its not until she changes schools that she gets a shot at it, thanks to her best friend Claudias crazy plan. The idea is simple: The rungs of The Ladder are relationships. First get a boyfriend who's ranked low, then climb up through more boyfriends until you're not just one of the Populazzi, but the Supreme Populazzi. Yet what starts off as a fairy tale turns into a somewhat dark comedy of errors. Just when Cara reaches the top, her life hits rock bottom. She wonders why she wanted to be popular in the first placeand if theres any way to live happily ever after now.
Cara has never been one of those
girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi. Now, junior year could change everything. Caras moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, shell reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi. The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.
Cara has to climb The Ladder of guys to become the most popular girl in school, in a hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful coming-of-age story by the co-writer of Hilary Duff's first novel for teens, Elixir.
About the Author
Sara Zarr was raised in San Francisco, went to high school in Pacifica, California, and now lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the author of Story of a Girl and can be found on the web at www.sarazarr.com.