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Thursday, June 04, 2009

readergirlz in June: Sweethearts roundtable!

Every month, Little Willow rounds up readergirlz divas and postergirlz for a roundtable discussion of the spotlighted title. This month we were excited to have a chance to talk about Sara Zarr's wonderful novel, Sweethearts. Read an excerpt here, then head over to the readergirlz blog to read the rest!

Little Willow: I cherish the book Sweethearts, I really do. Sara Zarr's sophomore novel gently captures both the innocence of youth and the point at which it is shattered. The friendship between a fragile girl and a tormented boy changes dramatically when they are children, and evolves further when they are teenagers and the long-lost boy returns unexpectedly.

Last August, the postergirlz selected this book as one of our of the recommended reads within that month's issue of readergirlz. Now, Sweethearts is our main pick for June , the book of the month for our book group. Five of us - Little Willow, Miss Erin, Lorie Ann Grover, Melissa Walker, and Holly Cupala - set up an online meeting to discuss the book at length. Here's what we had to say.

Little Willow: What words come to mind when you think of Jenna, the main character in Sweethearts?

Miss Erin: Lost, buried, caught, hidden, confused, bruised, neglected.

Melissa Walker: Hiding, scared.

Little Willow: I second "hiding" and "confused." Also: Fragile, lonely, searching, nostalgic, torn.

Holly Cupala: Questioning identity, hidden truths, self-punishment, longing for acceptance.

Lorie Ann Grover: Self-doubt, lost, confused, pained, hungry for peace and acceptance from others and herself.

Little Willow: When she slipped back into her binging habits, I wanted so badly to help her.

Lorie Ann: I know, LW! It pained me when she stole and binged. Pained me!

Holly: My heart went out to her. We've all been in places where we've felt misunderstood and helpless and have tried to soothe ourselves in unhealthy ways, whether physical or emotional. Sometimes we have to reach bottom before we can start the journey back up.

Little Willow: By the time she got to high school, Jennifer shed the weight and (some of) the shyness of her elementary school self. She also changed her name to Jenna. What did you think of her transformation?

Miss Erin: Reinventing yourself can be a good thing, but in Jennifer's case I think it was more harmful than helpful. She wasn't doing it for the right reasons, per se--she was doing it to try to run away from her past. Your past isn't something you can run away from and still be perfectly content/at peace/happy. Jenna certainly wasn't.

Melissa: I thought it was another way for her to hide from a past she was unsure about, a time that brought her pain to remember.

Lorie Ann: I have a different perspective. I admired that she redefined herself. I found her journey in Sweethearts to be about meshing the new image authentically with who she really was. And what a surprise: her authentic self was even greater than she hoped. She was liked, loved, and courageous.

Holly: She worked so hard to hide from the people who were hurting her that she also hid from herself. Most heartbreakingly, she hid her own strength. She couldn't even see it because it was wrapped up in all that pain. I admired her most when she was able to have compassion and admiration for her earlier self...
Want to read the rest? Then head over to join the discussion at the readergirlz blog and check out the June issue of readergirlz!

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