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Book 23: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Title: That Summer
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 208
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult

Rating: 7/10

Haven’s life is changing faster than she’d like it to. Her father’s marrying a woman half his age. Her sister’s marrying the most boring man in the world. Her mother’s planning a trip to Europe. Her best friend’s obsessed with a guy she met at camp. Oh, and Haven grows another couple of inches practically every other day. All she wants is for everything to go back to it how it was that summer, the summer when they were still a happy family. But as she’s quickly finding out, you can’t hold onto the past forever.

This has been my least favorite Dessen book so far. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was bad, because there were still aspects that I liked. I found Haven sympathetic and relatable in certain aspects, and I feel like Dessen did a great job at portraying the relationship between sisters. They can drive you crazy and make you want to kill them at times, but deep down you’re still going to miss them when they’re gone. The scenes between Haven and Ashley were really well written. I also liked the view we got into Haven’s relationship with her mother, although I wished that that had been explored a bit more.

Really, the only reason I didn’t like this book was that it didn’t quite feel like a completed novel. It felt more like the draft I just finished of Degeneration – a good start to a novel, but one that’s ultimately missing something that would tie it all together and make it more emotional. It was like I wasn’t waiting for anything. There was no secret I was trying to find out, or a secret that I was waiting for the main character to share. I wasn’t waiting for her to find her inner strength or anything. Really, the only mystery was why Ashley and Sumner broke up, and I really don’t feel that that was enough to hold the whole book together.

I still enjoyed the book overall, and considering this was Dessen’s first published novel, I feel like I can’t really hold it against her that this book hasn’t been as good as the others. I would still recommend this book to people who like this genre and like Sarah Dessen, but I would not recommend this to anyone who’s looking to read a Sarah Dessen book for the first time, as this is hardly her best.