Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#readadessen: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Can you guys believe how many books Sarah Dessen has written? When I saw that blogs were coming together to celebrate Sarah's newest release by reading her previously released books, I knew that I had to participate! I have been reading Sarah Dessen books since I first started getting into YA contemporaries, way back in 8th grade. While I've fallen behind on her newest releases, I devoured her books in high school and couldn't wait to revisit some favorites! One of the books I get to cover in the #readadessen celebration is That Summer!

That Summer
By Sarah Dessen 
Release Date: January 1, 1996
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.

I've wanted to reread some books I have read in high school and middle school but I'm scared because I don't know how much I'll like them. Will characters seem juvenile? Will amazing storyline seem flat now? I remember how I enjoyed this one when I first read it way back when (how was this published in 1996?!) and I was excited to dive into it again. 

Haven's life has completely turned on its head. Her father is getting remarried, her sister is getting married, and her mom is trying to embrace the single life. Haven is just left to the side to deal with everything going on. That summer, though, her sister's old boyfriend shows up and reminds her of another summer where everything was easy and happy. Can she get that back or embrace the change that she's been facing now? 

I've got to say, I definitely read this differently than I did when I first read it almost ten years ago. First off, our main character is very passive. I have grown to really not like passive characters (especially after reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen) and Haven does pretty much nothing in this book. She's an observer, which I actually am as well, but for a novel, I expect more than a character's observations about everything going on around her. 

While I wasn't a fan of the lack of action/plot in this book, I still think that it dealt with family in a way a lot of contemporaries don't. Haven's parents had divorced and she had to deal with how to approach the subject of her father around her mother and her sister without offending either one. Haven is five years younger than her sister and her sister is a huge part of this story, so I enjoyed seeing their relationship and how Haven felt kind of left there as an outsider. I think this outsider feeling, though, was a little too much of the story. And the fact that Haven was super tall (almost 6 foot) was drilled into us over and over and I didn't care by the end of the book. 

Overall, this one isn't my favorite from Dessen, but it's still a good look at family and feeling like your life is completely out of your control. I can definitely tell this is one of Dessen's earlier works, but it's still a sweet contemporary about love, life, and family.

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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