Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Review: That Summer

That Summer by Sarah Dessen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

For fifteen-year-old Haven, there's just too much going on. First, there's her father's wedding to Lorna Queen, the local television "Weather Pet." Then her sister Ashley's wedding to boring Lewis Warsher, who doesn't seem to suit Ashley at all. And Haven can't ignore the fact that she's nearly six feet tall and still growing. Haven can barely figure out who she is anymore or where she fits in. Then Ashley's old boyfriend, Sumner Lee, shows up and sparks Haven's memories of the summer when her parents were happy, her sister was plucky and carefree, and everything was perfect...or so it seemed.

First sentence: It's funny how one summer can change everything.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love Sarah Dessen - she's the queen of contemporary YA, my favorite genre. And over Spring Break I had nothing new to read and was bored, so I decided to reread her debut. It felt a little strange to read her earliest novel knowing all of her other work, as this one has basically the same...I'm not sure what to call it, but I guess you could say the same formular as all of her later novels, and while it's not as great as some of her other books, That Summer is definitely enjoyable.

In all of Sarah Dessen's novels, the writing is beautiful and vivid. I always feel like I'm right there along with the main character, and her metaphors are always great and memorable. While the writing in That Summer had some flaws and you could definitely see that she's grown as a writer since, it has all the elements I love about Sarah Dessen's writing and is still better than your average YA novel.

What I love most about Sarah Dessen are her characters. She's just so talented at creating relatable but interesting characters you can't help but feel for. Haven's view is always understandable and I felt all of her feelings along with her. The secondary characters in That Summer are great as well. I absolutely loved Sumner and Gwendolyn, and most of them are fully developed. I would have liked to know a little more about the mom and about Haven's best friend, Casey, though.

Character development is another thing Sarah Dessen excels at, but in my opinion, that was lacking a bit in this novel. Haven definitely grows as a person, but I would have liked the developments at the end to be elaborated on more, as they are a little too quick to be realistic, in my opinion. That's one aspect where Sarah Dessen has definitely grown a lot with her newer novels.

One thing I appreciated was that there is no real love interest in  That Summer. I'm not sure, but I think all of her other novels include a romance-storyline (correct me if I'm wrong). While I love romance, I appreciated she left it out of this one, as it was great to see how Haven dealt with her problems on her own, without the clichéd boy-comes-to-the-rescue storyline. Haley's struggle was portrayed really well that way.

While this is not Sarah Dessen's best work (obviously, as it's her debut), it's definitely worth reading - it includes everything Sarah Dessen-fans love about her novels. If you haven't read anything by this author yet, though, you should probably start with one of her newer novels (my personal favorites are This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever).


  1. OMG!!I love Sarah Dessen too!!!She's like one of the best authors.
    Lovely review!!!Thanks so much for it.Definitely adding that to my TBR pile.Old follower stopping by.Would love to see you at my blog sometime.

  2. This is one of the few books by Sarah Dessen I haven't read. I do love her books, they are so great! Thanks for sharing your review!!

  3. This is the only Dessen book I have yet to read. I must get on it!

  4. Read the review and I'm curious! Never read any Sarah Dressen book but I guess this one is a good start :)


Please leave a comment - I love to hear what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...