Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

December reading reflections

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Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (YA)

This book made my stomach ache like an episode of The Wonder Years.  There was such a painful beauty to the bond between Jenna and Cameron.  Here’s a brief summary of the story, sorry it’s a little less than eloquent:

Jennifer and Cameron were outcasts and each other’s only friends when they were kids.  Then he disappeared without a trace and she heard a rumor he died.  She was understandably devastated.  Fast forward to senior year, where she’s reinvented herself as Jenna at a new school – she’s popular, has a boyfriend, etc, etc.  Then Cameron shows up out of the blue.

There’s some stuff that happened in the past that they both have to deal with and it’s this shared experience that has bonded them.

Jenna’s confusion over her feelings for Cameron – friendship, love, fear – was very realistic.  It’s a story about coming to terms with the past and even though I’ve read some reviews that didn’t like the ending, it felt almost necessary for it to end the way it did and I’m not complaining.

Shadow Horse and its sequel Whirlwind by Alison Hart (MG)

I’ve read a few of Hart’s books now and I love how her female protagonists are always strong and independent, but still with a vulnerable side.  Thirteen-year-old Jas Schuler isn’t afraid to get in the horse stalls and get dirty, but she’s also overly conscious of cute farm volunteer Chase and she’s fiercely protective of her grandfather.  Her loyalty is definitely one of her best traits.  And even though she can be stubborn, she’s also willing to change (like her attitude about Second Chance Farm).

These books are mysteries and I like that the bad guy is well established (because, honestly, I suck at figuring things like that out otherwise) and I like that as Jas learns stuff, I learn stuff.  Because that’s another thing Hart is great at – setting the scene by showing and not telling.  I know jack about horses, but I could picture all the action so perfectly in my head.

Added bonus: Hart is a Virginia gal, like me, so I got to squeal over the mention of familiar places.

I definitely recommend these two books to all the MG (and mystery and horse and Virginia and kick-butt girl) fans out there.  

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That’s all for this week…have a rockin’ Christmas!

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Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Currently in the query trenches. My faves include: cats, snacks & green tea.

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