This Lullaby: This Lullaby is hands-down my favorite Dessen novel of the dozen. The dynamic between Remy and Dexter is the stuff of YA perfection, and I still catch myself singing The Potato Opus when I'm distracted. Ever since the first time I read this book (probably a decade ago by now!), I could relate to Remy - cold, calculating, always pushing others away before they could hurt her first. Even now, I still see a bit of Remy in myself. But then along comes Dexter, who is still one of my top book boyfriends, with his band and dog and breaks all of Remy's carefully crafted rules. My love for This Lullaby is endless. Don't you give me no rotten tomato, 'cause all I wanted was your sweet potato...
The Truth About Forever: I loved this book when I was younger, but I haven't read it since my father died a couple years ago. I worried that it would make reading this book impossible...Macy is trying to find security in her perfect boyfriend after her father dies. But when Macy starts working with the Wish Catering crew, she understands that there's more to life (and truly living) than being perfect. Her relationship with Wes and their game of Truth always make me giddy (maple scented pencil!). The low point of this novel for me is Macy's mom, who succumbs to the unrealistic-crazy-parent trop in YA - and unfortunately, she's not the only example in Sarah's writing. But on the whole, The Truth About Forever is really hopeful and uplifting, and I still love it.
Just Listen: This book still affects me every time I read it. Annabel is the youngest of three sisters, and everyone thinks she's an It girl local model. But after her eldest sister moves to New York and her middle sister develops an eating disorder, Annabel feels like she can't be honest with her parents about what she wants - and modeling isn't it. I really enjoy Annabel's relationship with music-obsessive Owen who always tells the truth, and their music conversations are beyond cute. But for me, this book always comes back to Annabel and her sisters. There's a scene at the end of the book that gets me every single time, and it of course makes me think of my relationship with my own sister.
Lock and Key: This was my least favorite of the four books, but I think it's still a great example of how Sarah Dessen is capable of writing powerful Quiet YA. With similarly dark themes from Dreamland, Lock and Key follows Ruby after her addict mother abandons her and she's taken in my her estranged sister and her husband. I enjoyed seeing Ruby's relationship with her sister Cora and her husband Jaime progress, and I wish that would have been the stronger focus instead of Ruby and Nate. While I of course felt empathetic for Nate's situation, it all got a bit jumbled towards the end with everything going on. But at the same time I felt like Nate's story was really important...maybe it would have worked better without the romantic connection?
Those are the four books I read in July for #SummerOfSarah - have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments if you have, and what you thought of them! In the month of August I have the last three in Dessen's dozen to read: Along for the Ride, What Happened to Goodbye, and The Moon and More.