Sarah Dessen is an author who kicks some serious teen-lit tookus. She has been around since the early 2000’s and she has written a lot of stories – eleven, to be exact. The Calarco Library has six Sarah Dessen books on Kindle, and three are reviewed below.
[This was the first book I read by Dessen. During the winter, I go to a bookstore or the library to hog a chair and read on a weekend afternoon. I wanted something fast and NOT representative of the freezing cold, so I chose Along for the Ride]. High achieving, insomniac Auden would (grudgingly) rather spend her senior summer with her Dad and his new family than help her feminist mother host parties for her multitude of graduate students. Auden’s days are filled with a distracted novelist-father, an overwhelmed step-mom, a job at a clothing boutique her own mother openly mocks, and an always crying baby sister. Then Auden meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and she discovers the carefree life she always avoided. But Eli has his own secrets and his own reasons he never sleeps.
[This was the last book I read by Dessen. I was on a roll by this point]. Annabel Greene has a secret. It is the reason her friends dropped her and she has to eat lunch alone, sitting against a wall with the other students who have no one to eat lunch with. Annabel can’t imagine talking to her family, not when her mom is grieving her own mother and her older sister has an eating disorder. She certainly can’t imagine telling anyone that she wants to quit modeling. The last person she expects to share anything with is Owen – the music-obsessed, truth-telling guy who is well known for violence and sitting alone against the wall during lunch. Can his policy of “Don’t judge, just listen” help Annabel face what happened to make her another loner sitting against the wall?
Macy witnessed her father’s unexpected death – something she is forced to face every time one of his peculiar packages arrives at the doorstep. If she’s learned one thing, it is better to be safe than sorry. She is a high achiever, but her higher achieving boyfriend, Jason, is away at “Brain Camp”. The summer is shaping up to be lonely and boring – one filled with SAT prep and working at the library.* Macy even has to keep helping out at her mom’s open house events, which couldn’t get any worse…until she ends up helping the Wish Catering Crew and getting a job. Besides happy chaos and new friends, Wish also brings Wes, an artist who followed an unconventional path. Will new friendships and the ongoing game of “Truth” she plays with Wes help Macy face her grief and choose her own path?
The Final Verdict
Although Sarah Dessen’s books feature a love story of some kind, they never ignore other important relationships and life obstacles. All of Dessen’s books deal with family, friendships, academics, communication, and honesty without ever feeling like an after school special. The stories move quickly, and it is easy to care about the characters. The books can feel formulaic and a bit predictable after a while, but it actually adds a level of comfort to the stories. Bonus: they usually take place in a beach/seaside town, so they are fun to read when it is cold and miserable outside.
Read if you like: summer, realistic fiction, honesty, and smart girls
Avoid if you dislike: predictable endings, love stories, and teen-lit
-Signing off, Ms. Barrows (who is definitely going to read Goblin Emperor after reading Mr. Gette’s review)
*Libraries aren’t boring or lonely! There are books! (she shouts while shaking her fist)