Justina Chen Headley Dia Calhoun Lorie Ann Grover Holly Cupala Melissa Walker readergirlz blog


Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other's only friend. So when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she'd lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school and known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating -- everything "Jennifer" couldn't be. When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with the memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken. Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

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"We are honored to have National Book Award Nominee Sara Zarr at readergirlz this month to celebrate the theme of Truth with her beautiful novel, Sweethearts. When Jenna's childhood friend Cameron walks back into her life, Jenna must face the fragile self she has left in the past as well as the life-altering memory she shares with Cameron. I think her journey will resonate with readergirlz of all ages as we consider the truth of who we are, and who we want to be." - Holly Cupala, readergirlz diva

A 2008 Cybils finalist

An Oprah Book Club Kids Reading List pick

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, VOYA

"...wistful prose and skillfully layered characters." - Horn Book


Sara Zarr


Things to Know

  Sara Zarr

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On the nightstand: A biography of Patricia Highsmith, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (which I just found out won the Pulitzer!), Everything Is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis

Favorite drink while you write: Water! Gotta stay hydrated.

Favorite bookstore: The King's English in Salt Lake City - comfy store, great selection, amazing staff.

Favorite library: The Salt Lake City Public Library, main. (Named 2006 Library of the Year! Booya!)

Pets: One very talkative parakeet named Peanut.

Place to write: Usually the office I rent away from home, but sometimes home, sometimes the library.

Inspiration: Music.

Dream book tour: The Lake District in the UK, Venice, and then a special appearance on a cruise ship going up the Inside Passage to Alaska...

Writer buddies: So many! My in-person writing crew: James Dashner, Anne Bowen, Emily Wing Smith.

Cure for writer's block: Time, discipline, walking.

Favorite outfit: Jeans, sneakers, comfy shirt.

Laptop or longhand? Laptop, usually.

Stilettos or Uggs? Actually, I pretty much never take off my ecco sneakers!

Next up: A short story in Geektastic this summer. Then, my third novel, Once Was Lost, coming in October.

Author idol: Anne Tyler.

Other YA Novels: Story of a Girl

Other Interviews: Archived at Sara's website

Website: sarazarr.com

Roundtable: readergirlz divas and postergirlz discuss Sweethearts


rgz LIVE!

Discuss the book with the author herself. Sara Zarr will be chatting live at the readergirlz blog on Wednesday, June 17th at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST. The chat will last for about an hour.

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker

On Tuesday, June 9th at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST, we're holding a special chat at the readergirlz blog to celebrate the release of Lovestruck Summer by diva Melissa Walker. Join us!



The BullyBust 2009 STAND UP Pledge

Support those around you who are being bullied or victimized
Tell a friend, teacher or parent when you see someone being bullied
Ask yourself, "How would I want to be treated?"
Note where and when bullying occurs (bathroom, playground, online) and
Do something when you see someone being bullied Ė be an UPSTANDER
Understand why bullies bully
Practice being a good role model for your fellow students and share "STAND UP to bullies" strategies




In Sara Zarr's Sweethearts, Jennifer Harris is haunted by a childhood where she was cruelly ridiculed by her classmates.

Sadly, her story of growing up being bullied is a common one. Last month Oprah profiled 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera, whose recent suicide was blamed on bullying. More than likely, you or someone you know has been bullied at some point, too.

Common or not, there is something you can do about it! In fact, it's important to do something about it in order to stop bullying. The worst thing you can do is ignore it, said Dr. Susan Lipkins, an expert who appeared on Oprah's show.

Visit www.bullybust.org and sign the STAND UP pledge.

Stand up against bullying, rgz!



These tunes were hand-picked by the author to accompany her book.

Born by Over the Rhine - Sara calls this Jenna's theme song
You're All I Have by Snow Patrol
Satellite by Guster
Mission of My Soul by Peter Himmelman
Casimir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens
Downpour by Brandi Carlile
The Great Salt Lake by Band of Horses
A Long December by Counting Crows
When A Heart Breaks by Dave Barnes
All At Sea by Jamie Cullum





One of the major themes of Cam and Jenna's friendship is loyalty, even in the face of change. What do you think makes a loyal friend? Should loyalty have limits?

Between 4th grade and high school, Jenna transforms herself into a different person physically and socially. Have you ever wished you could reinvent yourself? Why?

Jenna gains some things by reinventing herself, and loses others. What are some of the pros and cons of reinventing yourself?

Jenna's mom makes some mistakes when it comes to dealing with Jenna's past and current issues. What do you wish parents would do differently when you confide in them?

Near the beginning of the book, Jenna thinks, "Life wasn't what you made it. You were what life made you." Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Jenna and Cam's relationship isn't really romantic, and it isn't really platonic. What is challenging about that kind of friendship?

In the book, Jenna's friend Katy complains that Jenna hasnít been a very good friend since starting to date Ethan. Have you ever felt ditched by a friend who spends a lot of time with a boyfriend or girlfriend?

The story is all about the bond between Jenna and Cam formed in grade school. As teens, the bond is there but the friendship isn't perfect. A lot of friendships don't survive the transition from childhood to adolescence, even if no one moves away. Why do you think that is?

Have you ever had a Jenna or a Cameron in your life? Are you still in touch?

Jenna uses food for comfort when she's anxious or unsure. Why might this be kind of a bad idea?

The controversial ending: Love it or hate it? Discuss it! :)



Invite: Heart-shaped cards if snail mail, pictures of cookie hearts, or heart-themed Evite

Food: Frosted heart cookies, NECCO sweetheart conversation candies, and French fries with fry sauce (a Utah specialty Jenna mentions - mix mayo and ketchup about 50/50 - yum!)

Décor: More hearts. T-shirts that say, "I survived childhood and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Toy rings to honor the ring that Cameron leaves in Jennifer's lunch box.

Movies: Slumdog Millionaire (main character forges bond with girl through childhood, and devotes his life to finding her). Also, the TV show My So-Called Life was all about this teen girl shedding an old identity and looking for a new one, but people and things from her past self keep intruding on her efforts to be different.


The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart Purge by Sarah Darer Littman Hold Me Tight by Lorie Ann Grover Peeled by Joan Bauer The Year We Disappeared by John and Cylin Busby

Recommended by postergirlz, the readergirlz advisory council

The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Purge by Sarah Darer Littman
Hold Me Tight by Lorie Ann Grover
Peeled by Joan Bauer

The Year We Disappeared by John and Cylin Busby


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The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg



Next month, we'll be discussing The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg.

Our August selection will be Kendra by Coe Booth.

Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg   Kendra by Coe Booth         MySpace   MySpace Groups   Facebook   YouTube   Blogspot   LiveJournal   Twitter   JacketFlap

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