That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Reader
Pages: 208
Release Date: April 6, 2006
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming-of-age
[Goodreads]

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With such a low rating you’re probably wondering why I didn’t DNF this book. Well, because of my own damn stubbornness, that’s why. Being my first “Sarah Dessen” book, I was determined to read it through. Dessen books seem to be very popular and well-known so I thought That Summer would be a sure thing. As they say: there’s no such thing as a sure thing.

Contemporaries are my least favorite YA genre type. I find that I quickly lose interest unless one of two things occur; epic romance and/or fantastic characters. I get the sense that ‘That Summer’ is geared towards Middle Grade readers, which excuses this book from having no romance(s) to root for.

So then there’s the characters. What can I say about the characters? Well…. SNOOZE. I couldn’t connect or relate to a single one. That Summer follows Haven, a 15 year old girl who’s trying to stay the same while the rest of her world changes. She’s hitting puberty at a fast rate and she’s having trouble accepting it. This sounds like an interesting, albeit, usual coming-of-age story, unfortunately, the characters (including Haven), are lackluster, making the story even more sluggish and agonizing.

My own stubbornness saw me through to the end of That Summer. I really wanted to quit this book about 40 pages in. The only reason I gave this book one stake is because the last 20 pages of That Summer was actually pretty good. The story finally went into hyperdrive and the climax supernova’d. I think if the characters had been quirkier and that more significant moments had occurred, I would have liked ‘That Summer’ a whole lot more.

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I give That Summer one stake.┬áIt’s going to be a while before I give another Dessen book a go. I’m going to have to do some better research next time.

5 Comments

  1. Aw I am so sorry this didn't work for you! I do understand what you mean about contemporaries! Like, I can love them… but only if they have some kind of extra amazing characters, and like, a lot of emotional depth. And yeah, romance helps haha. This sounds like… it would not be for me. Isn't 15 kind of old to be going through puberty anyway? Like I feel like a fellow 15 year old would not relate to that so much, Idk. Anyway, I will be avoiding this one, great review!

    • Yes 15 is a weird age for the story. I think 14 would have been much better or even 13. It would have made more sense. It also could have been labeled middle grade which in that case I wouldn’t have read it.

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