My rating: 2 of 5 stars
My June book of the month was That Summer by Sarah Dessen. I love Sarah Dessen as an author and Dani gave me this book as a birthday present last year. (Is it bad that I haven’t read it yet?) I thought that this would be very fitting to read at this time of the year. I found that I did not enjoy this book as much as her others. I found myself skimming much of this book, but I still found it enjoyable.
I promise to be brutally honest with my opinion, but it should not be taken as fact. Any reader should read it for themselves, before they decide if this book has any merit or not. Do not judge this book biased solely on my opinion. If you do, you might miss out on a great read. You never know. It could happen. My review may contain spoilers, but I really strive to be spoiler-free. I was given this book for a present from my best friend and she is not affiliated with any author/publishing company. This book was not suggested to me by the author. I have no affiliation with the author or his/her publisher.
Haven is a spunky teenage girl, who is a bit self-centered. She absorbs information from others and does not really have a true opinion of herself. She cares more about what others think of her than what she thinks about herself. She is also very obsessed with her sister’s life and past loves. She never seems to have a life of her own and it made the book seem stilted and dry.
There really isn’t any evil characters in this book, which contributed to the feel of this novel going nowhere fast. Daddy’s new wife isn’t evil or anything. Yes, she shouldn’t have flirted with a married man, but she isn’t an evil stepmother. Sumner turns evil in the end, but really he hasn’t been the greatest guy throughout the whole book. Honestly, those are the only real bad characters, which is sad. Dessen usually has a solid antagonist even if it is just a theme or concept and not a physical person.
Strong Minor Characters:
The only real minor characters are Haven’s mother and sister. Yes, there are other characters, but I just didn’t care about them throughout the entire book. Yeah, they were probably important to the author, but I could take them or leave them. HINT: I decided to leave them and I don’t have any regrets about my decision. I found the sister highly relate-able and I really liked her a lot. The mother I liked less, because I felt like she wasn’t that strong of a character, even at the end of the novel. I feel like the novel really lacked development.
I feel like there wasn’t much of a plot and the novel never really went anywhere. If I had to hazard a guess at what the plot of this book was, it would be a coming of age story about a girl who feels like she is losing everyone she cares about: her father, sister, and mother. I have to say that this is my least favorite book of Dessen’s. I feel like all the other books are so much better by a large percentage.
I never say this, but I feel like there was too much description in this book. There was so much that I found myself skimming large sections of this novel. I feel like much of it was boring and not worth reading. This book was a total disappointment for me, but I still am glad that I read it. Not every book can be a gem and I feel like if I read this while I was younger, I would have liked this better.
Like with all Dessen novels, the dialogue was spot on with how real people would talk and converse. I feel like what I read most was the dialogue in this book, because it was really the only part worth reading. She creates the best speech flow patterns if you can even call that a thing, but it is so true. I admire her or her creative dialogue.
I really did not encounter many surprises at all in this novel. The only surprise I can recall is how her mother wants to sell their house, because it is filled with too many memories that her mother cannot move through enough to keep on living there. That was really the only surprise that I encountered.
What climax is all that I can say? I mean, you tell me where it is in this book. The only part of the book that could be like a climax is at the very end of the book where Haven really blows up and basically goes postal for a little bit.
I really did not have an emotional attachment to this book like with other Sarah Dessen novels. On a side note, I just painted my nails a minty green that matches the ocean on the cover almost perfectly, check out my #ManicureMonday post to find out more. I really love the colors on the cover and I think that that is the closest I will be coming to am emotional response with this book.
The last chapter of this novel was very expected, but a satisfying end to a roundabout story. I don’t want to give a lot away from the novel, but the ending is worth reading the whole book for. I am glad that it did not end in a cliffhanger.
I love Sarah Dessen’s writing, but this book left a lot to be desired. I wish I could turn a blind eye on this book and say that it wasn’t that bad, but the truth is that it was as bad as I made it out to be. I will not belittle my own words and even though I really love this author, she really let me down with this book.
The cover really captured my fantasy and I really love how happy and carefree it is. It really contrasts with how Haven is anything but happy and carefree anymore. It depicts how she was that summer and how everything around her changes. She never realizes until the end that she has changed as well. I really love the cover maybe even more than the book itself.
This is a young adult coming of age story that is well marketed. I just wish that she would go back and rewrite it a bit better. It is better to just move forward and to see that as a learning lesson.
That Summer is a very fitting title for this novel, because it mainly focuses on the past. I believe that it is also a title that captures your attention and you want to see if it is a breezy beach read. (I didn’t think that it was.)
I am glad that I was able to read this book and that Dani gave me this for a present. I will treasure it for the memories this book has given me and not necessarily for its contents.
Selena Hannah xoxoxo