Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

9780142401729_ThatSummer_CV.inddTitle/Author: That Summer by Sarah Dessen
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile on January 1, 1996
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Nope!
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.

My Thoughts copy

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.

Final Thoughts

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.Favourite Quote

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.Talk to me

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 :)


14 thoughts on “Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

  1. I haven’t read this one for years but will be rereading it for a challenge later this year. I’m glad you mentioned the best way to read her books! I always recommend either THIS LULLABY or THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER and then tell them to go back to the beginning. It’s easier to catch the cameos that way but you also know how great her books can be based on the later novel. I always find it kind of entertaining that the movie How to Deal with Mandy Moore combines THAT SUMMER and SOMEONE LIKE YOU. It’s been awhile since I’ve read both so there’s a really odd mix of books and movie in my head and I don’t know what’s from a book or what’s from the movie! Have fun reading the rest of her novels!

  2. Definitely agree that this is not her best. My first ever Dessen book was Someone Like You (which I read about 13 years ago) and it was an instant favourite. I know I read That Summer when I was in my teens, but I honestly didn’t remember anything about it when I reread it earlier this year. You’re right about it not being horrible, just boring with nothing really happening. I’m planning to read (or reread as the case may be) all her books this year, and I’m trying to do it in order, except that I’m currently reading The Moon and More (which is also kind of boring and it hurts me to say that!). She definitely has some gems though!

  3. I really want to read some Sarah Dessen! I’m planning on reading at least one during the Summer Lovin’ Read-a-Thon (first week of July)… I’d heard that her earlier books aren’t as great as recent ones, so I’ll probably break my rule of “always-read-in-publication-order” just this once, lol. Would you recommend starting with The Truth About Forever? It sounds like that one was really good. :)

  4. Okay I have never read anything by Sarah Dessen….Sometimes I wonder if I live under a rock….but thanks for the advice, I definitely won’t start off reading this book!! Great review!!

  5. I have never read any Sarah Dessen before. (I know, I know, what??) I’ll keep this in mind when I choose one to start. I’m not sure which one to read first!

  6. This was one of the few Sarah Dessen books that I read, and it really turned me off. Maybe it wasn’t the right book to first read from her. Would you recommend any really good ones? I have read That Summer, Keeping the Moon, and Along for the Ride. I’m not sure I would ever want to read any of her works again.

  7. Pingback: Friday Flashback: June 14, 2013 – June 27, 2013 | books, etc.

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