Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mini Reviews: Sarah Dessen's Books

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Sarah Dessen is pretty special to me. I feel like I got into the contemporary genre because of her. I have read every single one of her books now. (And one day I will watch How to Deal. I've been wanting to forever.)

I can also list every single one of her books. As you can see below. (I did check Goodreads to confirm it, but I made the list off the top of my head.)

The first book I ever read by her was The Truth About Forever.


The Truth About ForeverI honestly feel like Macy and I could switch places and nobody would even notice. Is that weird? Does that say stuff about me? Probably. I mean, I'd probably be reading instead of studying like she does. But otherwise, I'd say we're pretty similar, personality-wise. She's not *quiet* really, but she does keep to herself. And she tries so hard to live up to the expectations she feels her mother has for her. I know that feeling so well. And I can understand why she doesn't want any sympathy or why she won't cry.
The fact that Sarah Dessen could catch the emotions so well... I was amazed. Sometimes I find myself wishing I worked for some catering business. But only if the people were like Delia and well, Wes...
Which is another thing that drew me to the book. I don't remember when I read this as far as what other books I was reading at the time. I'm not sure if I was into fangirling over guys yet. But I definitely loved the idea of a tall, dark, artistic guy. I'd say Wes kind of foreshadows my later (and current) love for Adrian Ivashkov from the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series.
Not only that, but I know it did get me into the contemporary genre. And once I finished this, I had to read more. So on I went to read...

Just Listen Just Listen
To be honest, I can't remember which one came first for me. Whether it was Just Listen or This Lullaby. But I'm pretty sure it was just listen for a couple of reasons. First, the rape. I hope I didn't ruin anything with that. Especially because it's not quite rape, but it certainly almost happened. And while I was shocked, I also kind of expected it. Weird? Yeah, I guess so. I hadn't yet gotten into my dark contemporary stuff yet. I suppose this could be a precedent to that, even though this is NOWHERE near dark contemporary. That just isn't Sarah Dessen's style. Even when she deals with tough issues, I would never call it DARK.
One of my favorite characters ever is Owen. Partially because he's such a sharp contrast to Annabel. He is determined to tell the truth and have others tell the truth. She's rather not. I must say, I felt like I understood that. It's hard sometimes. The truth isn't always simple or easy. There's a quote about that somewhere. So I admired Owen for being so passionate about that. I loved how he helped Annabel, and how Annabel came through in the end. I can't remember the exact ending of the book, though. I'll have to read the last few pages again.
Here's a little story: A couple years ago, a bookstore in some mall was closing down. It wasn't Borders, or a chain or anything like that, as far as I could tell. But it was going out of business and it was having this huge sell. Naturally, I took advantage of the extremely low prices. I got a used copy of this. But it was a hardcover for like, $5. So I wasn't complaining. Overall, I got maybe 6 or 7 books? For like $40. Including a couple hardcovers. It was a good day. But also sad because now I had one less bookstore to go to :/


This LullabyThis Lullaby
I feel repetitive for saying that I understand the characters. Remy is one of those characters I understand. True love? What's that? It only exists in fairy tales, right? Sometimes I still find myself wondering that. But Remy is a bit extreme. One of those extremes that make me realize how ridiculous to be so skeptical, you know? She did not believe in love, like, at ALL. She especially did not trust musicians.
So of course, a sweet musician falls for her and she's like, WTF? No.
And I'm like, JUST GET WITH HIM ALREADY.
We all know the drill, people. This is what contemporary is all about, it seems. And this was no exception. What I did like about This Lullaby, though, was the music. I mean, duh. I liked the Hate Spinnerbait and the song written for Remy by her father. It was really nice. And it was something different, especially when I first read this.

Dreamland Dreamland
If Sarah Dessen writes dark contemporary, I'd say this is it. It's not REALLY dark contemporary, but this is as close as she gets. i was really surprised by this book. I mean, really.
To start off, this cover is amazing. Every time I see it I'm like *shudder*. But I'm also like, damn that's beautiful. It's really mysterious and well, dark.
So what's it about? Abuse, simply put. And I was shocked. I mean, he was such a great guy, you know? And in every book I had read so far, the girl gets with the great guy and everybody's happy. But in this one? Oh my God. NO.
Now, I don't remember the specifics. I don't remember how bad it got, but I'd say any abuse is bad. So we'll keep it at that. This is definitely one of the first books I had read on the topic, and I've read quite a few since then. Probably because of this book. It just had this weird affect on me.
I remember not liking it too much at the time. I haven't read it again, but I've been wanting to. Just to see if I finally understand what Sarah Dessen was trying to accomplish with this book. I think I was too young to thoroughly appreciate it.


Keeping the MoonKeeping the Moon
This is another one of those books that I hardly remember. Because I recently read The Moon and More, I'm convinced that the artist was first mentioned here. I don't remember, to be honest.
I remember Colie's background. The first few pages where she described herself and her mother and such. I remember them going to Colby and I remember the cafe. The rest? A blur. I couldn't tell you anything about anybody. So I guess there's not much to say here.
I did like it, but apparently not enough to remember it. Weird? Yeah, maybe.




Someone Like YouSomeone Like You
I did not like this one when I read it. It was short and by this point, I was like, what the hell? I guess I'm a sucker for a good love story, and this was a bit, well, depressing. The girl gets pregnant and her boyfriend dies. The girl's friend gets a boyfriend who practically abuses her and almost rapes her. It was weird, and not my style, especially at the time. While the ending was sweet, I was too appalled by the events leading up to it that I was like, well I'm done.
Maybe I should give it another chance, but I'm not sure that I want to. I'm okay leaving it in my memories.
Now don't get me wrong, it's not horrible. It really does emphasize friendship and love and it was interesting.
It just wasn't what I needed; I couldn't relate to it. And Sarah Dessen's appeal is that her writing is relatable.


That Summer That Summer
And I thought that I was disappointed by Someone Like You. I honestly can't remember which one I read first- That Summer or SLY. But I always group them together in my mind because these were nothing like I had expected.

I do remember this one, though. I remember Haven and Lakeview, her growth spurt, her dad and the weather lady, her sister with the boyfriend that wasn't right for her or something like that.
I guess the point was that Haven wanted the past, but she had no idea what was really going on back then. Certainly interesting enough, but somehow I this book and I didn't click.



Lock and Key
Lock and Key
I liked this one. I feel like that's important to say. It's because of this book that I grew fond of key necklaces, though I'd never admit that I'm so unoriginal. You may laugh at the irony of that sentence.
One thing I liked about this book was that it took place in Wildflower Ridge. And if you read The Truth About Forever, well, then you'd know what that is. It's the community that Macy's mother was busy planning in TTAF. Another TTAF thing? Bert and Kristy made a little cameo at some point in the book. It's a little one- and it's mostly inferred because of course, Ruby doesn't know who they are. But I knew, and it was exciting.
As for the plot itself, Ruby seemed to be a mix of Remy and Annabel. As far as, skeptical and independent (Remy) even if she has to lie about it (Annabel). Maybe it's a stretch but I feel like it's accurate enough.
I don't remember Nate too well, but I do remember a few scenes out of order. And let me say, his story is definitely interesting.


Along for the Ride Along for the Ride
So I gave this book a five star rating on Goodreads. That's all fine and dandy, but I don't remember this book too well o.o
I remember Auden and Eli. And I think Jason makes an appearance somewhere? Um, this is the one where Auden spends time with her father and stepmother, Heidi, and their new baby.
That sounds right, and Goodreads kind of confirms it.
I don't remember Eli's background at all. Or Auden's for that matter. I do remember the insomnia but I don't remember why.
Maybe I should go reread this one. I rated it five stars once, it must be good, right? Especially because I do love Sarah Dessen.


What Happened to Goodbye What Happened to Goodbye
This one I read much more recently. I'd dare say maybe two summers ago? I just remember that I had finished all of Sarah Dessen's books a while ago, and I was excited when I discovered this one.
At first, I wasn't too convinced. Something about divorce and moving around and I'm just like, well! I wonder where this is going! But as usual, Dessen knows just how to get her readers involved in her characters and before I knew it, I was worrying that McLean might actually have screwed up and there's no way that she could ever win Dave back. (Okay, I don't remember how that went down at all, but the point is, there must have been some issues, right?)
So in the end, I loved it. The humor and the fear, and the overall great storytelling. Which must be true because Sarah Dessen has so many books, and well, people are reading them. Aren't they?


The Moon and More The Moon and More
This one! Oh I had such high hopes!
Remember when I said that half the fun is the romance?
Okay, so I never said that, but I should have by now. Half the fun is the romance, and when not one, but TWO romances are destroyed in less than 400 pages, well, I'm sad :(
I feel like that gives the wrong impression of what I want and what I expect from Sarah Dessen. There is so much more to her stories than romance. But, well. Her romances are great. And I was looking forward to more of that.
In the end, I understand. It's hard not to. Theo turned out to be too full of himself or something. Luke just wasn't good enough for her. Jeez, I don't know. In the end, dumping Luke just to dump Theo later is just a waste of time...
The other message of the story I did like though. It dealt with college and possibly moving away and family and friends and that? That I loved. It's something I'm going to have to go through soooner than later and well. I'm scared. But this book did inspire me. So while I didn't love it as much as I had wanted to. I still appreciated it. It was just what I needed right when I needed it.

And isn't that the beauty of Sarah Dessen's books?

P.S: I found something incredibly interesting while researching these books (because I forgot some character names). And it is this: The Truth About Forever has it's own thing on Shmoop. If you have no idea what that is, look it up. Shmoop.com. Look it up!


-Wolfie

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