Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: That Summer

Title: That Summer
Author: Sarah Dessen
Format: Paperback (reissue)
Publisher: Speak 
Publication Date: June 2012 (originally published on January 1, 1996)
Source: Purchased
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The more things change...

As far as Haven is concerned, there's just too much going on.

Everything is changing, and she's not sure where she fits in.

Then her sister's old boyfriend shows up, sparking memories of the summer when they were all happy and everything was perfect...

But along the way, Haven realizes that sometimes change is a good thing.

My Review

When That Summer by Sarah Dessen was first published, I was seven years old. I don't really remember much of what happened back then, but it's safe to assume that a seven-year-old wasn't reading YA. As the years passed, I grew, but somehow Sarah Dessen never caught my attention. I didn't even know who she was until my last year of high school. So now, almost twenty years later, I'm giving Ms. Dessen some much needed attention from this YA reader.

Let's just say that That Summer wasn't the most spectacular read for me. To be honest, I think I went into it expecting way too much because I've seen the highest praises for Ms. Dessen's writing. However, the previous statement doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy reading That Summer. I thought it was a cute book, and it took me back to simpler times when cell phones didn't exist and you actually had to hang out with your friends on sidewalks and backyards.

I really liked learning about Haven's journey. It must be awkward to be a giant at such a young age, but here's Haven, a fifteen-year-old teenage girl who stands at almost six feet. (Think Taylor Swift... that's how tall Haven is.) On top of her awkward height, she also has to deal with her father marrying the woman he cheated on her mom with, her older sister's wedding, and a best friend who is now dating for the first time. Then a blast from the past comes back, and Haven keeps seeing her sister's ex-boyfriend everywhere. The more she sees him, the more she thinks about the good times, and she can't get the perfect summer that the three of them and her parents had years ago. Talk about a chaotic summer! I don't think I would have been able to handle that at fifteen.

The one thing that I adored about this novel is Dessen's use of imagery. There's a scene at the end of the book that takes place during a thunderstorm, and I could actually feel the rain and wind on my face as I was reading. You cannot beat a book with imagery, and Dessen nails it.

I'd definitely consider this a coming-of-age novel. Haven has to learn how to deal with all of the changes in her life in a manner that reflects that of a fifteen-year-old, and not the child that she used to be. I'd recommend this book for all fans of contemporary YA, and especially teenage girls between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.

If Ms. Dessen's other books are as good as this one, you can count me in for reading them. 

Sarah Dessen is the author of eleven previous novels, which include the New York Times  bestsellers The Moon and More, What Happened to Goodbye, Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby. Her first two books, That Summer and Someone Like You were made into the movie How to Deal starring Mandy Moore.

Dessen's books are frequently chosen for the Teen Top Ten list of Fiction for Young Adults. They have been translated into twenty-five languages.

Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors in creative writing.

She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.

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