Sweethearts by Sara Zarr Retro Friday Audiobook Review

Retro Friday Reviews is a feature/meme hosted by Angieville where you review an older or lesser known book on Fridays.

If there was a class called Contemporary 101, I am pretty sure that Sweethearts by Sara Zarr would be required reading. While I am incredibly well-read, I am not as well-read as I think I am. With a windfall of free listening time, I happily placed a hold on the Sweethearts audiobook at my local library, ready to meet the infamous Cameron Quick.

Sweethearts, Sara Zarr, Audiobook cover, cookie heart


Jennifer Harris had a shitty childhood. She was plump, often hungry — resorting to stealing food. Her mom was not around because she was in nursing school working full time. Also, Jennifer was bullied at school and called Fatifer which definitely messed her up. However, through it all she had one steadfast friend, Cameron Quick who had the worst home life, with a domineering, abusive father. Years have passed. Cameron has left. Jennifer is now Jenna Vaughn, living a comfy life with nice clothes and a nice house. Not to mention the most awesome step dad ever, Alan. Jenna now goes to a charter school called Jones Hall, she has a nice boyfriend named Ethan and is popular. Her life again crosses paths with Cameron Quick in an unexpected way.

I thought Sweethearts by Sara Zarr was heartfelt and emotional. I couldn’t help but empathize with Jenna and her past. Zarr does an excellent job showing themes of how our childhoods shape us and how many people still carry scars of bullying. We see it in Jenna’s characterization, how she’s afraid to be her real self because she doesn’t want her new friends to hat her like the jerks she went to elementary school with. Cameron Quick, my heart aches for you. I mean, he comes back into Jenna’s life only to find out she has a boyfriend. There’s tension, longing, and unfinished business. Sigh, no real sexytimes though. I’d definitely say that Sweethearts is a complex read with tough issues but it never turns all after school special on you.

The audiobook of Sweethearts is read by Sara Zarr, the author. While I liked the story, I did not like the author as a narrator. I can’t help but think the audiobook would have benefited from a pro-reader at the helm, like Jenna Lamia. I thought Zarr had a weird accent (at least to my ears). And the characters all sounded the same. This is not among the best audiobooks that I have listened too. If you are experiencing Sweethearts for the first time, I would say, read the physical book or an ebook instead of the audiobook.  However, this audiobook produced by Listening Library is only 5 hours and 49 minutes long, so it’s not a huge time investment or anything.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local library.

Other reviews of Sweethearts by Sara Zarr:

Frenetic Reader
Forever Young Adult

Purchase Sweethearts here.* link will take you to Amazon where yes, friends, I am an affiliate, in full disclosure. If you click that before you blow some money on frivolous things (YAY), Good Books & Good Wine will receive a very small commission. It’s win-win. You get new things AND you get to benefit this rockin’ website.


ALSO YOU GUYS THIS COUNTS FOR JUST CONTEMPORARY – a month devoted to contemporary books hosted by Shanyn and Ashley.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. First things first… that cookie looks so delish.. Thank goodness it’s almost lunch time. lol

    Love this review. I’m a getting a little burnt out on all the paranormal and dystopian stuff I have been reading. I like to throw a contemporary in between them. It helps to break things up. Contemporary is a new genre for me, so I’m always looking for new recs. I will be adding this to my list.

    so glad it doesn’t turn all after school special.. I hate when books do that.. it totally kills the ” real-ness” feeling.

  2. Aww, I’m bummed you didn’t much care for the audio. I started an audio book the other day and the narrator was so bad I turned it off after like 2 minutes 😛

    I loved Zarr’s debut novel and I own a copy of this, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m definitely going to need to read this one soon! It sounds pretty much amazing!

  3. Okay, thanks for the warning regarding the audio. As someone new to audio, I probably wouldn’t have the patience to sit through a not so good one. My best friend has been bugging me to read this one though so I will definitely have to pick up a physical/ebook copy soon.


  1. […] Good Books and Good Wine Paperback Treasures […]

  2. […] you and you desperately want that head over heels feeling too? That was sort of my experience with Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, I enjoyed it a lot BUT I was not in love with the audiobook version of it. Of course […]

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