Title: That Summer
Author: Sarah Dessen
Rating: ✰✰ 2 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary
Page Number: 224 pages
Synopsis provided by Goodreads:
For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.
Quickie Review: I have been dying to read a Sarah Dessen book. Everywhere I turned, there was someone raving about a Sarah Dessen book, so eventually I picked it up. Books-a-million was having a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale this summer, and I thought it would be the perfect time to start reading it. With this being my first Sarah Dessen novel, I was excited...a little too excited. I went into this book thinking it would be a bit like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, and I loved that book. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed in this book. Haven complained a lot, the book rarely had anything to do with the plot, and the main character seemed more like it was about her sister's wedding! Where did all of this come from? Nothing happens to the main character, but to the people around the main character. Usually when this happens, it affects the main character in some way... not in this book.
Our main character here is 15 year old Haven, who complained a lot about her height, and her slender body. I can really relate to her since I'm really tall and skinny myself, so that was a plus. However, that was only time I could connect to the character. The book rarely has anything to do with what the synopsis claims. The whole book revolves around her sister Ashley's wedding, and her past boyfriends. Nothing really happens to the main character, but more to the people around her. Her best friend comes back from camp bringing new habits with her. She's turned into a huge boy-obsessed-smoker-who-hides-things-from-her-parents. I found myself wanting to high five her in the face multiple times. It was hard to feel for Haven and her parents' divorce because she didn't really show much emotion towards it like Hadley in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.
If your reading this book hoping for a fun summer romance book about change and figuring out who you are, then you'll be in for the disappointment of your life. When Ashley's ex-boyfriend (the only boyfriend of Ashley's that Haven actually liked) returns, all Haven can think about is that summer when everything in her life was perfect. She could tolerate her sister, her parents were happily married, and Ashley's boyfriend was a good friend to her...and that's all we know about this amazing summer. We get a clip of it at the beginning of the book, but not enough. Haven hopes that Sumner could help bring her life together to the time when everything was good. She remembers all the amazing memories they had, and she's left wondering why her sister broke up with him in the first place. Sumner seems like the fun guy that everyone wants to hang around. He makes work seem fun, and her has about a billion jobs (literally). At the end of the story, your whole opinion changes about Sumner, and the type of person he really is. It was really short and quick, and the ending had no meaning. There was nothing that lingered, like usual after you read a good book. You just feel like,"Glad I got that one over with."
In the story, Haven has to deal with the fact that her father, a sportscaster, has divorced her mom for the weather forecaster. Her father is highly popular in her town, so wherever she goes, you'll hear about him. The worst part is that she sees her father everyday on TV sitting right next to the women he left their family for. She still spends time with her dad every once in a while, but they're not as close as the used to be. We don't actually feel for her since we don't see her feelings towards the divorce. However, once she hears that her father and his new fiancee (or wife, I honestly don't remember) are having a baby, we actually get a reaction out of her.
The Only Thing I Liked
The one thing I liked in the story was how Haven ended up becoming comfortable in her own skin at the end of the story. She stopped wishing she was something she used to be, and I liked that. I also liked how she stopped letting herself be pushed around and yelled at all the time. Yes, it was Ashley's wedding and it can be stressful planning a wedding, but she didn't have to treat people the way she did. Haven finally put Ashley in her place and I loved that. It's sad that I had to wait all the way until the ending of the book for that to happen, but at least it did.
The Ending (Warning, there is a spoiler ahead. It might seem big to some, but honestly, the way it was told, it made the whole ending a let down. I'll let you know when the spoiler begins.)
The ending was a big let-down. With a book like this, there is no gasp worthy event or anything I could say that would make you feel like you were spoiled, but if there had to be one, I guess this would be it. Spoiler Ahead~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
...but if there had to be one, I guess this would be it. When we finally figure out while Ashely broke up with Sumner, and although it was shocking, I didn't like the way we were told. Ashley finds Haven in the woods while it's raining and tells her the true reason she broke up with Sumner was because he cheated, as if it were obvious. All in one blow. Then we move on to the wedding, as if nothing happened, and we never see Sumner again after that. There was honestly no point to the story, and the synopsis will have you fooled.The book is mainly about chaotic planning for Ashley's wedding, and what happens to everyone around Haven, not Haven herself. All in all, I didn't like the ending at all. I'll feel so bad for giving this one stars simply because I don't do that often, and I think the book had a little bit of potential (I guess).
This is a bad first impression with a Sarah Dessen novel, but I still want to give Just Listen a chance, because it really seems interesting. Hopefully Just Listen won't be a let-down as well. :-/