That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer by Sarah DessenThat Summer by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 6th 2006
Pages: 208

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.

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 star is because the last 20 pages of That Summer was actually pretty good. The story finally went into hyper-drive 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.