My Introduction to Sarah Dessen

My first foray into the world of Sarah Dessen's books was only partly successful. | A book review by

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Sarah Dessen’s brand new book, Saint Anything. I put the book on my TBR list but decided I wanted some insight into Dessen’s writing style before I checked it out. And… that may have been a mistake. I ordered the book duo How to Deal from Paperback Swap, because who doesn’t love a two-for-one deal? I didn’t find out until later that these two books, combined to form the plot for the Mandy Moore movie of the same name, were the first two Dessen published. And unfortunately, it shows.

The two books contained in this package are Someone Like You and That Summer. Neither of them really struck me, and I think part of the reason is that they’re dated. For example (slight spoilers ahead!), in Someone Like You, the main character’s best friend gets pregnant. With her boyfriend out of the picture, she must decide if she wants to keep the baby, all while continuing to navigate the dangers of high school. Meanwhile, the main character has to make the decision of whether or not to sleep with her own boyfriend, a bad boy character who is starting to get pushy. It’s a decent enough book, but I’ve seen this plot so many times before. Maybe when the book first came out, it was less of a cliche, but reading it in 2015 was a bit disappointing.

The second book, That Summer, I actually enjoyed a bit more. Fifteen-year-old Haven is having a tough summer, with her cheating father marrying his mistress, her mom contemplating big changes in her own life, and her difficult older sister planning a wedding of her own. With all of these pressures, Haven can’t help but think back to a better summer, when her family was intact and her sister was dating a boy who helped bring them all closer together. Unfortunately, she soon discovers that even these happy memories weren’t all they seemed. Although not much happens in this book, I still found it less predictable than Someone Like You.

On the whole, I’m not overly amazed by Sarah Dessen’s books so far. I’m hoping that I just picked the most boring ones to start with and that Saint Anything will be as wonderful as I keep hearing it is. Is there hope for me and Sarah Dessen? Do the books get better, or should I give up now?

Rating: Good but Forgettable

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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