ARC, 448 pages
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Published by: Viking Juvenile
Source: Penguin First Reads (A copy of this book was sent to me via Penguin First Reads and the publisher. This in no way shaped my opinion of this book. All words on it written under "My Thoughts" are my own.)
For fans of: Realistic Fiction, Realism, Contemporary, Romance, Chick-lit, Sparkly Covers, YA
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
After reading books I normally write my reviews right away so I don't forget anything. But with this one I had to wait a few days and sort my feelings out on paper before I turned this review in. It wasn't really what I was expecting, but I say that in the most pleasant way possible. Since I've heard so much about Sarah Dessen being the queen of contemporary romance, I was expecting the swoons to be over the moon. Unfortunately, the romance was swoony, but it wasn't all that I was expecting. What was amazing though, was the realistic nature this story was written.
Parents will always say they don't ignore you, they just tend to help the child that may need them more. (But in this case, Sydney's parents were no different. All they were focused on was Peyton and all his mess ups. But as those mess ups get worse and worse, there's nothing else they can do but let the law handle it. Even then, Sydney isn't the one they're looking at. Until she is. And by then, things are already out of control.
I've only read That Summer by Dessen and that one wasn't too impressing. So when I read "...is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?" I knew it would be good. The romance wasn't really there and at first I was upset about that because I've heard so much about Dessen's swoony boys and it didn't get swoony till super late in the book. But someone told me that Dessen's books are normally about family and other relationships and it made me appreciate the book even more. And as it turns out, that makes a lot more sense because the realism in this book was surreal. It looks like she's become the new Queen of Realistic Fiction. From the food, to the friendships, to the romance, it felt like a movie and not a book.
The romance in this one was ok, but not the best. Mac has his swoony moments, but he won't be one I write home about. But that was because this book focused more on Sydney as a character. Her friendship with the people from both schools, the relationship between her and her family, and last but not least, the relationship between her and her brother. Having not read many books where the main character and her different relationships are the main focus, it was a very welcome change.
Last but not least, the writing in this one was what MADE this book for me. After reading Dessen's very first book and then reading her most recent, I was able to see the difference of her writing styles from the beginning to the most recent. And I can clearly see the difference. Everything in this felt so descriptive and made me feel all the emotions that Sydney felt as if I were her. I was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't as MG-ish as the first. I can't wait to see what else she has in store.
This book is the the twelfth book by Sarah Dessen but only the second of hers I've read. This one book alone has changed my view on her. It made me want to read everything else by her. If they're all filled with the swoony times, cool families and friendships, and all the realism, like this one, there is about 100% chance that I will read them all.