Today kicks off day 1 of the Summer of Sarah Dessen at Books and Sensibility. Join us every Wednesday as we make our way through Sarah Dessen’s complete collection of novels !
“It’s funny how one summer can change everything. It must be something about the heat and the smell of chlorine, fresh-cut grass and honeysuckle, asphalt sizzling after late-day thunderstorms, the steam rising while everything drips around it. Something about long, lazy days and whirring air conditioners and bright plastic flip-flops from the drugstore thwacking down the street. Something about fall being so close, another year, another Christmas, another beginning. So much in one summer, stirring up like the storms that crest at the end of each day, blowing out all the heat and dirt to leave everything gasping and cool. Everyone can reach back to one summer and lay a finger to it, finding the exact point when everything changed. That summer was mine.” – That Summer, Sarah Dessen
Synopsis :For 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.
This summer, Haven’s father remarries to a younger woman, this summer, Haven’s sister marries and will leave, this summer Sumner comes back into her life. Not matter how much Haven wants it to be, this summer is not like that summer. When everything was perfect.
That Summer is a quintessential coming of age story, through Haven’s narration readers become a fly on the wall in Lakeview and all of it’s small town happenings. Everything from Haven’s father’s wedding to a local teen celebrity’s mental break down work together as a backdrop to Haven’s struggle with trying to find hope in an illusion.
This is Dessen’s debut novel and was originally published in 1998. It was written in a time when YA existed in a different form than what it is now. There were no sparkling vampires or teen death matches filling the shelves. According to Dessen’s website this book was never mean to be YA, it just has a teen narrator. I think this becomes a little evident while reading from a current perspective, this novel has none of the common tropes in today’s contemporary YA.This isn’t simply a boy meet girl type of story.
A thoughtful and introspective debut novel, That Summer is unlike many of the Dessen novels I’ve read so far. While it lacks some of Dessen’s usual finesse this is the type of story will leave you thinking and finding meaning in long after you have read it.
For Summer Of Sarah Dessen I’ll be listing any connections to books I find including; characters, settings and themes.
What is the Summer of Sarah Dessen ? Check it out here and join us !