Thursday, March 1, 2012
Edward, Jacob, Peeta, Gale, Jace, Four, Etienne, Cricket. We know their names, we drool over their broody eyes and chiseled abs, we dream about being the object of their sweet, lavish affection. But recently I read a book that inspired a different kind of love: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr.

SweetheartsMany readers will tell you that the hero, Cameron Quick, is perfect. He's tall, dark, and handsome -- plus mysterious and wounded, to boot. All the right ingredients, no?

And yet the character I really fell in love with was Jenna Vaughn. The heroine, in every sense of the word.

Reading Jenna's story was like sitting atop a mountain to watch the sun set. You see the brilliant oranges and pinks as they melt into the horizon. You feel the wind turn cool against your bare skin. You hear the crickets begin to chirp in the woods behind you. And then suddenly you realize that the thing you were watching -- the sunset -- is long gone. And while you were so focused on its disappearance, the world became something else entirely. Something dark and magical, filled with twinkling stars and fireflies, and a great big moon beaming brightly overhead.

That's what Jenna is: a quiet, beautiful surprise sneaking up on you, right in front of your face. Right in front of her own face, too. It amazed me how the author was able to reveal Jenna's true nature to me at the same gradual pace that Jenna realizes it herself. Tentative girlfriend, sympathetic stepdaughter, high school misfit, former fat kid. Jenna is so much more than the sum of her parts. She's so much more than she gives herself credit for.

And she's what I want so much more of in YA fiction. Forget the boys. Give me clever, flawed, brave, vulnerable, passionate protagonists -- and I'll give you my heart every time.

So tell me, who else should I fall in love with? Who are some of the non-love interests that have captivated you?


Unknown said...

Kristan, I entirely love this post. (do I say that a lot?)
For me, my favorite is Ebon from PEGASUS. I've never had a story or writer make me fall so in love with a non-human. And a mythical non-human at that.
...and as for Jenna "Fattifer" Vaughn, yeah. Just yeah.

linda said...

Great post, Kristan! Love it. I think that's what really draws me into a book too - I always wished I could be as awesome as the heroines in the books I read. I'll have to add Sweethearts to my TBR list!

Leah Goodreau said...

Lovely post, and a great point. Much love to sarahwedgbrow for saying Ebon. I've fallen for many McKinley protagonists: Sunshine, Harry (a girl, yes, from The Blue Sword), Mirasol (Chalice), etc. I'm also a sucker for well-developed side characters. Luna Lovegood, Claudia (Invincible Summer), Alistair (Name of the Star), Aro, onwards and upwards forever.

Kristan said...

Yes, HOW did she make me fall in love with a pegasus?!

@Sunlight and Shadows-
Yep, Harry was great, as was Luna. I'll have to check out some of the other McKinley books you mentioned!

Patricia's Particularity said...

LOVED this book!!! I started listening to it on CD and then had to buy the Kindle version because it was that good!! While I loved Cameron (and still get him out of my head) I too loved Jenna. I found her to be an amazing and rare character in the YA world.

Great post!

Kristan said...

@Patricia's Particularity-
I love that you, me AND Sarah all loved that book so much we had to blog about it. Great minds think alike, eh? ;)

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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