Cover via Goodreads.
Rating: 4/5 stars.
Queen Dessen, Empress Dessen, and Rock Star of YA Realistic Fiction Dessen – all titles I whispered while reading this book, usually after the words “bow down to…” After ten previously published novels, Sarah Dessen still has that signature prose style of hers – just enough telling and showing to suck you in while establishing back story, a setting that sits in the back of your mind when you close your eyes, and characters that you can believe in. Continue reading
Cover via Goodreads
Rating: 4.5/5 stars.
What Happened to Goodbye is another hit from the queen of young-adult realistic fiction, Sarah Dessen. As with all of her books, readers can expect a moving story filled with cleverly drawn characters and the perfect touch of romance.
In her tenth novel, Dessen details the story of Mclean Sweet – also known as Liz Sweet, Beth Sweet, etc. After her parents’ divorce she travels from town to town with her dad, assuming a new identity each time. Things are different at Lakeview, though. Mclean may just try to be herself, if she can find who that is before it’s too late.
People consistently comment on Dessen’s formulaic writing style. I have to disagree – this talented lady could write a book about a girl who reads instruction manuals and watches paint dry for a living. Her writing is that good. It sucks you in and forces you to flip the pages until you’ve read the whole novel. Not only is it addicting, but it’s neat and welcoming, like a gift that you can’t help but come back to every now and then.
With every book I’ve read by Sarah Dessen there are certain details and quirks that I adore. The characters’ names, like Opal and Riley. The model community town that brings individuals from the story together. I even enjoyed the basketball references, which clearly says something.
And lastly, Deb! She was such a cute little ray of sunshine (or in some cases, a frenetic tornado of neatness). I hope she makes a cameo appearance in a future work by Dessen. Characters from her past novels appeared in What Happened to Goodbye, but I won’t spoil who they are. Let’s just say, one of them has changed a lot.
Not my favorite from Sarah Dessen, but a darn good read. The Truth About Forever and Just Listen remain as the two books I would recommend right away to a newcomer of her novels, but What Happened to Goodbye offers a solid story that shouldn’t be missed by Dessen fans.
Cover via Goodreads
Rating: 3.5/5 stars.
By reading this book I can clearly see how much Sarah Dessen has improved as an author after several novels. While Someone Like You is a likable, heart-warming story, it lacks the strong emotions and pitch-perfect writing of Dessen’s later books.
One thing I would have loved was if this book was written in the perspective of a different character, namely Cameron or Scarlet. The story seems to revolve around Scarlet as opposed to Halley, so seeing her thoughts at certain points of the novel would have been interesting. Cameron’s character is also splendid – the outcast arriving at a new school who strikes up a somewhat relationship with a girl who is pregnant and carrying the baby of her deceased boyfriend. Whew.
Halley, however, seemed a bit flat. I liked how she learned about life through her rocky relationships with her mother and Macon, but in the end I still hadn’t fully connected with her. It might be that Dessen tried to tackle too many sensitive subjects at once – the mother and daughter bond, the selfish boyfriend, and the pregnant best friend – and simply did not manage to make it all tie back together like she usually does.
Overall, this was a refreshing, touching book by Sarah Dessen. I expected a bit more due to her splendid stories such as The Truth About Forever and Just Listen, but it’s unfair to hold her accountable for books she published after this one. Read this if you don’t have anything else you’re dying to read.