Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

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9780142401729_ThatSummer_CV.inddTitle: That Summer
Author:
Sarah Dessen
Date(s) read
: January 3 – 6, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Library (Paperback)

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For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

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I feel like I should preface this review by saying that I really do love Sarah Dessen. I’ve read a handful of her books already and have always finished with a smile of contentment on my face — until this one.

I know I’ll get rocks thrown at me for the lack of Sarah love on this one, but it’s the truth. Of course, I feel slightly more relieved having learned that this was Sarah’s first book. I think that might explain why it took me so long to actually get through it — and a lot of my “reading” was skimming. 

This isn’t to say that I didn’t want to like this one — heck, I wanted to love this book! My track record with Sarah’s books has been pretty good, but I found myself not really being able to identify with Haven. Really, I would’ve prefered to see the story from Ashley’s perspective because I think it would’ve been a lot more interesting. Being inside of Haven’s head was kind of boring and not a lot really happened in the story. I started skimming just to see when something good would happen, but at under 300 pages, I was disappointed.

I feel like with this story, Sarah Dessen was just getting her wings when it came to writing. It didn’t have a lot of the humour that’s in her other books, or the relationship between the main character and a neighbourhood boys that I like to read about. A lot of the time, we’re stuck in Haven’s head, reading her inner monologue which got a little tedious after a while.

Maybe I’ve just gotten used to the way Sarah writes these days because I know there are people who have loved this book, but when it comes to recommending her works to people, I know this won’t be one that I will pass on. Of course, I still love her work and hope to read everything else she’s written — she really is a great author, even if this one isn’t indicative of that.

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19 thoughts on “Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

  1. I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book but I hear she’s a great contemp author and I’ve been really into that genre so I want to give it a try. I didn’t know this was her first. I think I have a copy of her newest one from Netgalley I plan to try as my first 🙂

  2. Very fair review, Kristilyn! This is one of Sarah’s books that I don’t own (I own about 5,) and I can totally understand about it being her first book, and it feeling like she was finding her footing. I’ve noticed the same thing with one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult. I loved all her books, but when I read her earliest one, it just didn’t wow me like hers normally do. Even so, I can’t wait to read more of Sarah’s books, including this one!

    • I think I’m very glad that I read more of her awesome books first or I may not have stuck with her. It’s just so much different from her stuff that I love! I can’t wait to read more Sarah Dessen, either!

  3. I just finished reading this one last night (well, technically rereading since I read it when I was 14/15-ish), and I feel the same way. I just wrote my review for tomorrow and it killed me to write a semi-negative one since I usually love Sarah’s books. It was just…blah. Not a lot happened and it felt like she was telling the story and there was no showing. She’s come a long way as a writer!

  4. Trust me, no rocks are being thrown by me and I consider myself a pretty big Sarah Dessen fan. I adore every single one of her other books but this one…not so much! I definitely agree that considering it was her first book, it seems to be missing that special something that all of her other books had.

    • I think I’m glad I started with her awesome books — if I had started with this one, I would’ve been hesitant to continue! I do LOVE her other books. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (25) | Reading In Winter

  6. This one’s my least favourite out of all of the Sarah Dessen books I’ve read. I just didn’t really click with it, and I think you’re right. It seems like this one is a bit different from the others, like she was just getting into her style. I think the fact that this one doesn’t really involve a romance for the main character makes a difference, too. At least for me it did. haha 😛

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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