Cameron and Jennifer were best friends in elementary school. They were a pair of outcasts at their heavily Mormon school in Salt Lake City for several reasons: Jennifer was heavyset and only had one parent, Cameron’s father was heavily abusive, and both were poor. In fifth grade, Cameron moved away, and Jennifer was given reason to believe he’d never return. Eight years later, Jenna has left her old life behind her. She’s attending a small private school, where she’s got a solid group of friends and a popular boyfriend. When Cameron suddenly and unexpectedly returns to her life, Jenna finds the old Jennifer emerging more and more, and must come to terms with the past in order to fully embrace the future.
When I first read the back cover of this book, I was sure that Jenna’s transformation from Jennifer had turned her into one of the mean girls who tortured her in elementary school. I was quite relieved to find this wasn’t the case: yes, she wasn’t the outcast she was in elementary school, but she didn’t sacrifice her personality to move up in the world. I also assumed, based on the back cover, that the book was going to end a certain way. And it didn’t end that way at all, but that was fine with me. I appreciated that Zarr mixed things up a bit. Cameron and Jenna were both great characters, and the supporting characters were good as well, but I felt like Jenna was missing a real best friend. She had two close female friends, Katy and Steph, but it just felt to me like their friendships were more about convenience than about a real connection. I suspect Zarr intended it to be that way, to show that Jenna hadn’t really connected with anyone since Cameron’s exit from her life. But I still felt like it would have been nice for her to have someone that she could really confide in.
I would definitely recommend this book to fans of young adult literature. Zarr’s books are quick, easy reads, but that’s not to dismiss them. They’re a pleasant way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Rating: 4 stars
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