Hello everyone! Welcome to the Book of the Week :)
So, I had planned on doing the Book of the Week post on Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, and then do the third episode of Sara’s Quick Picks on The Moon and More but I finished The Moon and More and I’ve barely started Siege and Storm soooooo there goes that idea.
But I’ll have a review for Siege and Storm VERY soon, I promise!
For now, let’s talk about one of my absolute favorite authors in the world, Sarah Dessen and her brand new book, which I finished in about a day.
Enjoy this week’s Book of the Week!
young adult, contemporary, romance, summer book
Part of a Series:
No, all of Sarah Dessen’s books are standalone novels. However, you will see references to other characters and things from her other books if you look closely enough :)
You May Like if You Liked:
Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han or Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Set in the iconic Sarah Dessen beach town of Colby, Emaline works for her family’s rental house business, doing everything they can to make vacationing families happy. She’s lived there her entire life, and she’s based her life on this place. She works there, she’ll be going to college only a few hours away and she’s been dating her boyfriend, Luke, for three years. But sometimes Emaline wishes for more than just the small town life of Colby, and she finds that appeal in her father.
Her mother and father dated for one summer. Her mother was a small town Colby girl, her dad a college bound hotshot with some rich parents. One summer turned into more when her mom ends up pregnant and Emaline’s dad disappears, until she tries to find him when she’s ten. Their entire relationship is based on their mutual interest in academics and after her father (not to be confused with her dad, who married her mom when she was three years old) promises to pay for her college education, she works her butt off and gets into Colombia. However, when its time to cash in, her father backs out of the deal, disappears from her life again and Emaline takes a full scholarship to East U, a school merely two hours away.
This is the summer right before college and Emaline is spending it like any other summer, working for Colby Realty and spending time with Luke, and her best friends, Daisy and Morris. Things change real fast when a woman named Ivy comes to town to film a documentary bringing her assistant, Theo with her, who immediately attracts Emaline with his big city ways.
But then Emaline’s father reappears in town, along with her half-brother, Benji, and that begins to complicate things as well.
I love Sarah Dessen. I do, I do, I do. She is one of my absolutely favorite authors of all time. I have been reading her since I was 13 years old, maybe even before that but I think 13 is about right. Anyway, I do think that some of Sarah’s books are starting to become a little more repetitive as she writes more. Its not that the writing is bad, because it definitely isn’t. Sarah Dessen is an amazing writer.
I just felt a lot of repetition in this. Summer novel, meet a new boy, parents having issues, etc. It doesn’t seem that new, you know? Halley’s mom is too controlling, Auden’s dad is a flake and her mom is pretentious. McClean’s mom is an adulterer. Remy’s mom has been married several times. And on and on. Emaline’s mom and stepdad (or dad as she calls him since he’s the one that’s been in her life since she was 3) are good parents, if embarrassing at times. Its her father, her birth father, with his impossible demands of his son, and his inability to be an affectionate, loving, available parent to Emaline that is the parent issue.
Also, I wasn’t in love with Emaline the way I have been with other characters before. I just didn’t think she had as well defined personality as other Dessen characters have had. I think she was supposed to be a girl who helped everyone, who had an attitude, and was whip smart and could dish it out but it just didn’t come across that way unless someone pointed it out. You didn’t just get it. It seemed forced.
Also, I didn’t really feel a connection to either Luke or Theo. There wasn’t really a love triangle, THANK GOODNESS. I was like, Sarah, don’t you bring in a love triangle, don’t you do it. But there wasn’t. But either way, I didn’t have preference either way, for Luke or Theo.
Look, that being said, I still enjoyed the book immensely. It was still such a great Sarah Dessen book. It still had that great, curl up on the beach, sunglasses on, some good music playing on the radio kind of feel.
Because if there’s one thing (and there’s definitely more than one) that Sarah Dessen is SO good at, its capturing the teen essence, the teen experience. For someone who claims to have hated high school, and wanted to just get away as soon as possible, she definitely remembers what its like to be a teenager. I think some adults don’t like to think about teens doing the things they’re actually doing but Dessen tackles it straight on. Teens drink, they party, they have sex. But Dessen also does it in very tasteful ways and she addresses the issues in mature ways but she doesn’t gloss over the fact that an eighteen year old girl in her summer before college is going to have sex with her long term boyfriend, and enjoy a beer here and there.
I also like the family dynamic in this book. A lot of Sarah’s books addresses the relationship between the main character and their parents and there is sometimes sibling relationship but I really really enjoyed the family relationships in this book. I loved how Emaline loved her parents, even though they drove her crazy, and acted like parents tend to do. I loved her relationship with her sisters. I have two sisters as well, and I loved how they all were so different from each other, and both got along super well but also fought like crazy. Its so true to what that sister relationship is like.
Which brings me to the relationship between Emaline and her half brother, Benji. She’s only seen Benji a handful of times in her life and hasn’t really had the chance to build a relationship with him. But since he and her father are in Colby for the summer, and her father is busy, she’s able to spend a lot of time with him and build an actual sibling relationship with him. It was really sweet, as I also have three younger brothers, so trust me, I know what its like :)
Lastly, I like the resolution. I won’t go any farther than that, but its a different resolution than I’ve seen in a lot of her books, it kind of reminded me of the ending in Barbara Starr’s romance novel in This Lullaby. It was an ending I didn’t expect at all, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. It was nice. I like when endings surprise me, in a good way.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Recommended or Not:
I definitely recommend it. I don’t think its one of her best but I definitely enjoyed it :) A very enjoyable, satisfying Sarah Dessen summer novel. I was very pleased by it!
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Hope you enjoyed this week’s Book of the Week!
Come back next week for more!
And check out previous Book of the Week posts HERE.