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Monday, June 29, 2009

June: The Controversial Ending of Sweethearts

And finally, Sara asks, "The controversial ending: Love it or hate it? Discuss it! :)"

*Spoiler warning for the comments!*

23 comments:

Melissa Walker said...

I have to admit that I did want something more to grow between Jenna and Cameron--at first. But then I realized they were perfect in their friendship--crystallized in a time that they'll never forget. I do think they'll always be close, even if distance and years separate their actual interactions.

runa said...

Absolutely hated it. It ruined the whole book for me. You have these two people who are just perfect for each other in every respect, and they've had the fortune to FIND each other, and then, poof, all gone. I didn't find it realistic, nor did I think it was a good way to tie up the stories of two people who had lived through basically nothing but misery with even more misery.

poshdeluxe said...

i think the ending is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

obviously, as the reader, you want so badly for cameron and jenna to end up together... but that's not realistic. they're connected by something that happened to them as children, and although that connection will never fade, it's tied to their past selves. their shared experience is not a part of their present or their future. and there's no way that connection can sustain a real, active relationship.

i think sara zarr made a brave choice with this ending... ethereal and wonderful and sad, it resonated in my heart for weeks afterward.

Sara said...

It's been awhile since I read the book, so my memory might be a bit rusty, but I remember that I was glad to see it end the way it did. Because honestly? Cameron might be the kind of guy who seems romantic and like he's "meant for" the main character, but I'm not sure he's the kind of guy who makes the best boyfriend. Probably not his fault - he's the product of his upbringing, after all, but he struck me as the kind of person who would saddle Jenna with lots of issues, and he seemed to sense that, too, which I felt was one reason why he left. But then, I'm looking at this from the perspective of a 30-something who's known quite a few Cameron Bell types in her day. I also am someone who doesn't think Edward is a good/healthy match for Bella in Twilight, either. Which is not to say that I see Cameron and Edward as the same character - nor did I dislike Cameron. On the contrary, I thought Sarah created a wonderful character. But Jenna's story is about accepting, embracing, integrating and ultimately moving on from her past. She couldn't do that if she and Cameron were together as a couple.

Shelf Elf said...

I loved the fact that they did not end up together. It was perfect. Funny, but I didn't really want their relationship to change. I imagined them meeting again sometime in the future, but for now, just going ahead with their lives but always being deeply connected. Loved it (but I'm always one to go for the unfulfilled romance).

Sara Z. said...

I'm reading the comments with great interest and will be back when it seems all done to give my perspective on why I made the choice I did.

Little Willow said...

I like it. The entire book felt so real, layered with tension and confusion, and the ending fit. I don't like it when main characters seem to end up together just because one's a girl and one's a guy. I think it's more daring to have an unhappy or unexpected ending than a pat ending. I also think that J&C meant TOO much to each other, in many ways, to be together. So many painful reminders of what they were and what they are, yes, but they also had a deeper, beyond-friends connection, that will always be a part of them and shape who they become, not just who they were.

Kirsten Hubbard said...

I agree with the commenter who said it was a brave choice -- and a lovely one. Not that it didn't ache. But it was supposed to.

Ms. Melissa Sears said...

I found the ending to be more realistic than if they would've ended up together. I found myself thinking that they may end up together in the future when they are both able to truly move on from their pasts. I think by Cameron walking away he was protecting Jenna, like he always did. I appreciate the way that Sara Zarr chose to end the book because in life there are times when we have unfinished business.

Beth Kephart said...

I love the honesty of this conversation. I love how writers and readers talk and learn from each other. I love that Readergirlz provides a room where different opinions can be expressed and honored.

And now I have to read this book and see what I think myself.

holly cupala said...

I was proud of Cameron for making the choice to take care of his family, even though it meant they would not be together. I admit being sad about that! Though I think by not clinging to each other, they were each able to grow. I also thought it was open-ended enough that we could imagine them coming back together as adults with new experiences and fresh eyes. They closed the door on their shared pain and were free to go on with life. That, to me, was both hopeful and realistic.

silenceisloud07 said...

I do agree though that it was beautful in the way it ended. I was disappointed for my own contentment in the book ( I am a sucker for happy endings) but I did like how it was realistic. Not every set of perfect, mafe for each other friends develop more than a friendship. It was a bittersweet ending but it was poetic.

Part of me wanted more but the other part of me knew it was made that way for a reason and it was beautiful.

Molly O'Neill said...

It totally, utterly broke my heart that they didn't end up together--but I think that heartbreak made the book more memorable. If they'd ended up together, it would have been a story somehow more easily forgotten. That pang of something-somehow-always-unfinished keeps the characters alive after the book ends, I think, because the reader keeps wondering about them and wanting them each to independenly keeping being okay, rather than mentally trusting them to each other after the book closes.

Claire said...

I really liked the ending - it seemed like an interesting way to go, to not have it be a straightforward boy-and-girl-hook-up-and-all-their-problems-are-solved kind of situation, to not necessarily have it be a romantic relationship even if the close and intense friendship could have tipped over into it quite easily. I think a romantic happy ending for them could and would have been written well enough for me to buy into it as fitting for the characters, but as is I think it works.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Call me a romantic, I WANTED THEM TOGETHER! So in my mind they are now. Sorry, Sara.

And I understand you needed to write the ending as is. *sigh*

Erin said...

I really like what Little Willow said...about how they meant TOO much to each other to be happy as a couple. I think I agree with that.

I liked the ending - realistic is better than tied-up-with-a-bow. Not every guy-meets-girl story is a romance, in life, you know?

Dia Calhoun said...

I loved the TRUTH in the ending. I think having them get together would have been one too many bites out of a perfect cookie.

Silence is Golden, But Ducktape is Silver said...

Sorry runa, but life is totally like that, it isn't perfect happy endings, which is why I adored the book.

Sometimes people can't... how do I explain this... in life this whole happy ending thing is as perfect as it is in books and the relationship Cameron and Jenna have is so complex. Sometimes people can't define their relationship can't put a label on it because its more than friendship and something more complex than a romantic aspect... which is why I liked the book because that perfect happy ending doesn't exist in relationships like these, at least not in my opinion.

Its ambigious and its undefined and there's no ending to it, no drawer that you can shelf their relationship away in--and perhaps people don't like it for that reason, but I love it for that--because that's how life works.

One of the many things I admire about Sara's works.

;}

Sara Z. said...

Thanks so much, everyone, for your thoughtful responses. I think my reasons for making the choice about Jenna and Cameron have all been said here in the comments - especially well articulated by poshdeluxe and the other Sara, who were more articulate than I've ever been about it!

I'll just add something I wrote on my blog yesterday: for me, the last page of my books (or any book) is not the end of the story. I always imagine what happens next, whether it's a book I'm writing or one I'm reading. The characters live on for me, and though they might not have their perfect ending yet, I try to give them enough forward momentum that one can imagine that there's always a someday when everything you wished would happen could, and if it doesn't, you would understand why.

Also, just putting this out there as a commentary on our culture and what we value: Why do we see romance as the ultimate expression of love? If a relationship does not turn romantic, is it less of something? If a person goes through life without ever having a romantic relationship are they not really a whole person? We do sort of worship romantic couplehood in our culture, and I question that...

Okay, thanks again! YOu are all awesome!

lauren said...

i just finished reading 'Sweethearts", and i wasn't sure if i liked it or not. i so guessed that Jenna and Cameron would end up together! Now that i think of it the ending really did make cents. i mean if they ended up together it would be like a fairytale, and as we all know life sure isn't a fairytale!as i was reading the book i realized how mysterious ans caring Cameron is and that reminded me a lot of Edward in "Twilight". Edward left Bella to protect her, and i think that's what Cameron did for Jenna because he knew he couldn't take care of her. i also think that since Cameron hasn't had a very good childhood with his dad so now he is starting to acted like a kid again and is not ready for a relationship yet. i personally think that in the future they will be together!

Little Willow said...

Thank you, Sara. I agree: forward momentum is important. There it is again: Hope.

Thanks, Miss Erin!

Haley said...

This ending left myself as a reader 'hanging'. It just seems as if Jenna will never find love if she always will always have Cameron just...there. Is it to much to ask (beg) for a sequel? :)

Sara Z. said...

Haley - She will find love. I promise. :) Love comes from all kinds of places in all kinds of ways, and in real life, so often leaves us hanging...the older I get, the more I realize this!