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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

That Summer | Book Review

That Summer

Written by: Sarah Dessen
Number of Pages: 208

Average Rating: 3.49/5 stars
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Published: October 1, 1996
Read in February 2018

Summary According to 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

My main issue in this novel and biggest reasoning for the low rating, is the lack of plot. I don’t feel as though this story really went anywhere, and it was just 200 pages of repetitive metaphors and eye-rolling drama. After the synopsis I was expecting a big life-altering event but everything was laid out clearly and there were no shocking reveals. The most that I took away from this novel was that our main character’s sister has had a lot of boyfriends, and is a tyrant when it comes to wedding planning. It was very basic and anti-climatic, and very repetitive.

One of the redeeming qualities that I found in this story, was the characters. I felt as though each of our main characters had a distinct voice and their own personality, and brought something to the table. Since there was no plot to this novel, we spend a lot of time focusing on the characters and how they handle crisis. Our narrator Haven was less so our main character, with most of the novel’s focus being on her sister Ashley. It likely would have made more sense if the novel had been focused solely on her, or at least written in her perspective so we had justification on some of her actions.

I listened to this story as an audiobook, and it was very easy to listen to as it is a little over four hours. I had it on as background when I cleaned and was driving to work, but I was never hooked enough to listen to it straight through. In fact, I kind of relished taking the breaks from the dramatics.

Overall, this is not a strong novel. I do give credit to the fact that this was her first published novel and I’m sure she has come a long way as a writer, but this was essentially pointless. When I originally finished this novel I had rated it three stars because it wasn’t great and it wasn’t the worst, but after writing this review I feel it is more of a two star for me. I would like to continue reading Sarah Dessen’s novels, and I think I am going to pick them up in publication order, while also re-reading any I’ve read in the past for a fresh perspective on her development as a writer.

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