Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen (no spoilers)

Book: That Summer
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication: October 1st, 1996
Source: Local Library
Rating: 4/5 Stars
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:

I have read a lot of Sarah Dessen's books and in this case That Summer got beat out by Sarah Dessen's other books. I was constantly comparing this book to Sarah Dessen's other books that I really liked. That Summer was a pretty good book, but not Sarah Dessen's best by far.

This book was about the summer that changed everything for 15 year old Haven. I think we can all relate to that because there is a time in life with a lot of change happens quickly. For me I can relate to it right now because college is changing a lot of things. Haven is also almost 6 feet tall which I can relate to. She talked about how she slouched to be shorter. I do the same thing without even thinking anymore because I don't like being tall. That Summer is also about hope and fantasying about the past. It always seems when we look back at good memories they are always better in our mind than what they actually were. That was a true statement for Haven who built her expectations for one guy too high.

This book was also about the present and not just the summer that was good for Haven, but the summer that everything changed for Haven. Her sister's Ashley's wedding is a big part of the book. It was Ashley story line they used in How to Deal with Mandy Moore. I didn't really like the character of Ashley just like I don't like her in the movie. Ashley was very needy and self centered. Haven's life would be all turned upside down and Ashley wouldn't even notice. Then there was Haven's mother who was too busy planning Ashley's wedding and trying to get over her divorce to even notice the issues Haven was having. That left Haven to struggle through this difficult, life changing time by herself.

Of course there had to be a boy in That Summer. His name was Sumner. Sumner was the perfect guy. Haven kept bumping into him everywhere she went. For Haven, Sumner brought back memories of a time when everybody in her family was happy and care free. She would give anything to have those days back. Sumner isn't exactly the person Haven believes him to be.

I really liked the themes of That Summer of hope, loss, and change. I think the author made a novel that real teaches you that the past isn't really as great as we make it out to be in our minds. People are not who we always thought they were. I think she also mixed in the right amount of humor and stressful moments. Overall this was a very light read with great hidden messages. I always feel like I have learned something about life after reading Sarah Dessen and That Summer did a beautiful job in doing so. Although this wasn't my favorite Sarah Dessen book I did really enjoy That Summer.

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