This is my third Sarah Dessen book. I’m not claiming to be a huge fan, but her books always seem thoughtful with themes that appear to border on the introspective. She’s not trying to impress you, get you to fall in love or help her characters become better people; she presents stories that are realistic, yet never without underlying struggles or discord. Heck, many times, I don’t really like the main character much; but when you read, you know these folks. This story is richly woven, with details that make you feel like you are there.
There is so much awkwardness in Haven’s life. First, there’s her father. Not only is he a local celebrity (he’s a news sportscaster), but he and her mom divorced when he confessed that he was having an affair with the meteorologist he works with. What’s worse, they are getting married and Lorna (of Lorna Queen’s Weather Scene) and he are ready to just put the affair behind them. Secondly, there’s her sister. Ashley is six years older and has always been the one with the boyfriends; the wild child, the drama queen. Now Ashley is getting married herself to someone completely different than the guys she’s always dated; someone steady, nice, calm and a bit humorless. And Haven herself has outgrown the family by shooting up 4 inches in the last few months. She doesn’t quite know what do to with this giant body with all of its sharp corners and angles.
The family joke, when they were still a family, was they could remember when something happened by the guy that Ashley was dating at the time. Haven always felt like she was trying to catch up to her sister, and one summer, it seemed she had. Their parents were still in love, they stayed at the beach, and Sumner Lee was Ashley’s latest. Everyone loved Sumner; even Ashley was a different sister when they dated. She didn’t mind Haven tagging along and Sumner had that way of making everyone want to be around him. But, as usual with Ashley, she broke up with Sumner and things returned to normal.
Now Haven’s mother is talking about selling their house, Ashley is leaving, and Haven’s best friend has returned from camp totally boy-crazy. The only thing good is that Sumner is back in town. Can Haven recapture that wonderful summer when they were all happy together?
That Summer by Sarah Dessen was published April 6, 2006, by Viking Books for Young Readers. A gift of this book was made to Ink and Page.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 12 and up
COYER Scavenger Hunt #37: Read a book with water or the ocean on the cover. (3 points)