Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

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I really enjoyed this book.  I feel like, if I had read this book when I was in high school, it would have become a favorite.  It would have been one of the books that I read and reread until the pages were worn thin and dog-eared.  Reading it now, it made me feel a tremendous sense of nostalgia.  Which I think is maybe one of the reasons why I’ve turned to the YA genre at this point in my life, to be honest.

I LOVED the beginning of this book.  Halley is at summer camp when she gets a middle-of-the-night phone call from her best friend, Scarlett.  She’s calling because her first love, boyfriend Michael has died in a car accident and she needs Halley to come home.  As the reader, you’re thrown into the middle of these girls’ lives, and yet, the way Dessen describes them, you already feel like you know everything you really need to know about their friendship.  It made me ache for the same kind of friendship in my own life, to be honest.

I would have really related to Halley’s dynamic with her parents.  I went through a similar transformation from “mom as cool best friend” to “mom wants to stop me from having any fun and/or control what fun I do have.”  I also had a father figure very similar to Halley’s, my step-father, who was always the peacemaker, and always managed to make me feel better when my mom and I butted heads.

I also found myself sort of relating to Halley’s relationship with Macon (who, can I say, may just have the most unfortunate name in the history of YA literature.  Like, ever).  I found it really surprising and refreshing to find myself relating to their relationship, because it almost never happens.  It’s a testament to Dessen’s ability to depict a high-school relationship in a realistic, and not totally romanticized way.

I feel like I’m just going to start thinking of this summer as “The Summer of Sarah Dessen,” because all I want to do right now is start another one of her books…

This entry was posted in Reviews.

Top Ten Books I’d Love to See On the Screen

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday time!  As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish.  To join in on all the Top Ten Tuesday fun, link up over at their blog.

This week’s topic is another one that is near and dear to my heart, as I am a self-confessed television and movie junkie.  There’s not much that I enjoy as much as a good read, but Lifetime movies are pretty high up on the list.  I also have my fair share of TV shows that I keep up with regularly, including (but not limited to): The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Grey’s Anatomy, 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom in all of its various formats, Finding Carter (although this season I’ve been less interested), Dance Moms, and Modern Family – just to name a few…(By the way, if there are any shows that I’m missing that I should be watching, please let me know!)

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When I was around twelve or thirteen, I read every single book about Anastasia.  I was sure that if she was a real person and we had met in real life, we would have been besties.  If there were a TV series about her, I’m sure it would be the best thing ever.

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This was one of the first graphic novels that I ever read, and I surprised myself by really enjoying it.  Although I don’t think that graphic novels will ever be my go-to reading material, I’m definitely open to the genre and think this title in particular deserves an on-screen adaptation.

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There’s probably a really good reason why this one never made it to the big-screen.  It probably has something to do with Salinger being super secretive and eccentric.  Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see it given the Hollywood treatment.

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I feel like it’s only a matter of time before this one becomes a movie.  There are so many reasons why this story would translate well into a movie: the setting, the historical aspects, the friendship…  I’ve got my fingers crossed!

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If I Stay translated, in my opinion, really well from page to screen, and I think the sequel would as well!

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So, in the mid-1990s, there was a show on Nickelodeon called Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which pretty much scared me regularly, every Friday night for awhile.  The series was a sort of anthology of scary/creepy/paranormal stories that were told by a group of teens around a campfire.  They called themselves The Midnight Club.  I loved this show so much that, years later, I bought a bootleg copy of all of the seasons on DVD.

My point is that this was a great show, and I truly wish there were more shows like this airing now.  Any of Mary Downing Hahn’s books would translate beautifully to the format.  Her stories are perfectly creepy, but never gory or violent.

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

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So, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, but, this is my first Sarah Dessen experience.  I know, it’s quite shocking.  I don’t know where I’ve been.  Well, that’s not true.  I abandoned YA novels right around the time that Sarah Dessen’s first book, this one, came out.  You see, I was on to “bigger and better” things.  I was reading ADULT books, and completely neglected the entire YA genre.  I feel like that’s what everyone was doing at that time.  A whole generation of readers who went from reading all about The Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley, and then skipped right ahead to Jackie Collins, Danielle Steel, and, shockingly of all, Judy Blume’s adult books.

So, now I’m making up for lost time, and reading all of those books that I wish I had discovered when I actually was a young adult, when they would have had the most impact on me.  But I’m settling for the nostalgia I feel as I’m reading them now.

What I liked

The writing.  This is one of those books that sweeps you away and makes you forget about reality for awhile.

I’m going to try to not give too much away, but if you’re really interested in reading this book, maybe skip this part:

I really liked the idea of how we remember things a certain way, but then sometimes the reality of the memory is a bit different from how we remembered it.  I feel like the more scientific way of describing this would be an “unreliable memory.”  I could really relate to Haven’s nostalgia for a certain time in her life, but then realizing later that things weren’t as idyllic as she had romanticized them to be.

What I didn’t like

This book has a TON of character development, but it’s a bit short on plot.  Which is certainly okay, but I was hoping for a bit more to the storyline.  There seemed to be both SO MUCH and NOTHING going on at the same time, if that’s even possible.  Haven’s father has just had an affair and is marrying the woman he cheated with.  Haven’s sister Ashley is getting married and moving out.  Her mother is going through a mid-life crisis of sorts.  And yet, not much happens.  I feel like there could have been much more of a plot than there actually was, which was a tad disappointing.

This book definitely reads as a “debut” novel.  At times it feels as if Dessen is trying to be “writerly,” or “literary.”  Perhaps it’s just a pet peeve of mine, but I don’t like it so much when I can feel the author trying to impress me as a reader, if that makes any sense.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, but perhaps not for a first-time reader of Dessen.  (I feel like I have the authority to say this because I’m almost finished with her second book, Someone Like You, and I think that would have been a much better introduction to her as an author).

Hooked by Catherine Greenman

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Thea is the daughter of divorced parents, currently living with her mother and trying to work through a strained relationship with her father.  During her junior year of high school, she meets Will, and BAM – insta-love (blech).  Surprise, surprise, not too much later…Thea finds herself pregnant.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book.  I didn’t hate it, but “like” also seems too strong a word for my feelings towards it.  I got through it, but there were definite moments where I questioned why I was trying to finish it.  Going into it, I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but somehow, it didn’t live up to my expectations (if that makes any sense).  By the last twenty or so pages, I had pretty much figured out how the book was going to wrap up and had already started to think about what I was going to read next (not a good sign).

What I liked

 I liked how the author didn’t use this book as an opportunity to get preachy about, or glamorize, teen pregnancy.  If anything, this book reminded me of one of my favorite guilty pleasure TV shows, 16 and Pregnant.  The characters were (mostly) realistic in their actions, motivations, and emotions throughout.

I really enjoyed the growth of Thea as the protagonist, and especially the growth of her relationship with her father.  I think Greenman did a really nice job portraying how becoming a parent, and a single parent at that, can change your own life perspective, especially in relation to your own parents.

What I didn’t like

This book was set in New York City, which didn’t really work for me.  I felt like there were too many Manhattan cliches – the workaholic, alcoholic father, the flighty not-really-there mother, the prep school education, etc.  It all added up to my not really connecting all that well with the characters, which is sort of necessary in order to enjoy a character-driven novel.  I also found the setting to be sort of off-putting in the way that the characters’ circumstances are totally unrealistic to potential readers.

Plot-wise, there were parts of it that I really enjoyed, and that kept me interested.  But then there were other parts where I felt like the story really dragged on.  The knitting and crocheting descriptions REALLY worked my last nerve.  I get that there was a motif going throughout the book, which did kind of work, but I do NOT need that much information about bikini patterns.  Ever.  If I was looking for that, I’d read a McCall’s pattern book, thanks.

Would I recommend it?

Ehh…not really.  I mean, I guess I would if you’re desperate for a contemporary YA romance revolving around teen pregnancy.  But I think there must be better books out there even for that purpose.  Recommendations, anyone?

Top Ten Books I Plan to Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish.  Check out their blog to link up your own Top Ten Tuesday posts!

I think I say this almost every time I join in on this meme, but it deserves to be said again: This week’s topic is a great one.  I LOVE summer reading.  There is something about the summertime that makes me want to binge read.  There are so many wide, open days that are just waiting for a nice, chunky book to curl up with.

Here are the books that I’m looking forward to this summer:

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And, if I have time, I’d love to re-read:

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