Book Review: That Summer

The inundation of book reviews and lack of real entries? That’s because I’m doing nothing but reading and studying for the GRE….

that summer

That Summer has the hallmarks I love and find unique about Sarah Dessen’s books. Her protagonists aren’t extraordinary, and the world does not shift with their movements. Indeed, Haven’s life during That Summer is not too different from any teenager’s life during a particularly difficult summer. She does not fall in love, have tragedy occur or encounter significant loss or disease. Indeed, this changes in Dessen’s later books, so I enjoyed it here. Her writing style is also evident in this first novel, with a tendency to revel the past in long explanation, which though possibly frowned upon, I sort of like.

The thing is, I can definitely pin this as a first novel. Some plot points could use definite revision. For instance, Haven’s revelation about her sister’s ex-boyfriend was not a revelation to me. As soon as the second girl, the sister’s friend, was introduced I knew that something had happened between them. Having this girl be a member of her sister’s friends-group before the boyfriend might have made things a little bit more mysterious. Really, I wouldn’t have minded a relationship between Haven and Sumner. Nice and scandalous that, but I guess it doesn’t happen in real life….

On a side note, it was fun reading this thirteen years after its publication. No cellphones, no internet. Kids lazily wandering the neighborhood on a summer’s day, not engrossed by Gameboys. Oh how we change…

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