Title/Author: That Summer by Sarah Dessen
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile on January 1, 1996
Genre: YA Contemporary
Other Books by Author: The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, Lock and Key, This Lullaby
How I got this Book: Purchased
Summary From Goodreads: 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.
Okay, I think I need to start by saying That Summer is the second book by Sarah Dessen that I have read (the first was The Truth About Forever) and I really wanted to love it but I just didn’t. I adored The Truth About Forever, and so I decided that I wanted to read all of Sarah’s other books. One of my twitter followers suggested that I read the rest of her books in the order they were published, and I had been warned about That Summer and that Sarah has greatly improved in her story telling since then. I can say with confidence based on how much I loved The Truth About Forever that this statement is true.
Now, like I said, this is Sarah Dessen’s first book, and it definitely does not live up to her reputation of being such an amazing YA author. BUT, I didn’t hate it. It was good, just not great. The book focuses on Haven, a girl who is just a little awkwardly tall and is having to deal with a lot of changes in her family – her sister’s marriage, and her father’s marriage to a new woman. Haven has always been jealous of her perfect sister who used to go through boyfriends like there’s no tomorrow! But Haven never forgot the one boyfriend she thought was perfect, and she never forgave her sister for breaking up with him. When he comes back into the picture, things begin to change, and Haven realizes people aren’t always what they seem.
That Summer has a lot of internal dialogue, and a very loose plot. Really, not much at all happened, and I was kind of bored when I was reading the story. I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters, and that was a major problem for me. I can appreciate the fact that by the end of the book Haven had realized some important things about life, and has changed for the better.
This is definitely not Sarah’s best work, but I will continue to read her books as I know she grows so much as an author and her writing vastly improves! If you have never read Sarah Dessen before, I would not recommend that you start with this particular book.
But maybe that isn’t so bad. You can’t love anyone that way more than once in a lifetime. It’s too hard and it hurts too much when it ends. The first boy is ialways the hardest to get over, Haven. It’s just the way the world works.
Have you read That Summer? How did it compare to other Sarah Dessen books you have read? If you haven’t read Sarah Dessen before, do you think you will ever give her a try? Let me know! I want to hear from you :)