Book Review: That Summer

That Summer
Published By: Speak
Publication Date: June 2012 - reissue 
Page Count: 198
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Sarah Dessen has a way of capturing the teen experience in vivid prose filled with realistic characters and relatable experiences. I always find myself lost in her stories. Each one of them brings up some pretty major issues; I never leave one of her books without a lot of thoughts and a few new perspectives.

That Summer is the story of Haven, a fifteen year old girl, who is trying to figure out how to live her life when everything is constantly changing. Her parents got divorced after her father had an affair. Haven hasn't totally dealt with her feelings on this issue, but she's forced to when her father decides to remarry the woman who caused his marriage to dissolve. Of course, Haven is in the wedding. Watching her try to balance her emotions, her mother's well being, and her father's happiness was stressful for me. Haven is the type of girl that takes the weight of the world on her shoulders. I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her to keep her chin up.

To make matters worse, Haven's older sister, Ashley, is also planning a wedding and she's a Bridezilla. Everything is about Ashley and Haven keeps getting lost in the shuffle.

The entire book I wanted Haven to grow a backbone and stand up for herself. She keeps everything bottled up inside until she explodes. I did feel sorry for her, but I was also frustrated that she didn't try to solve her issues sooner.

This was an interesting Dessen read because the character is a little younger than some of her other main characters. In addition, there isn't really a romance in this one. The cover is a bit misleading on that front. I didn't mind the lack of romance. It was a nice change of pace. I enjoyed getting to focus on Haven as she watched changes happening around her and kept trying to find her place in her new world. This is truly a coming of age novel. That moment when you learn that everything is not as it always seemed is a jarring experience. Haven's emotions are real and palpable.

One Last Gripe: There were some moments in the book that were a little slow.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Haven's character development

First Sentence: It's funny how one summer can change everything.

Favorite Character: Haven

Least Favorite Character: Lorna

The more things change...

As far as Haven is concerned, there's just too much going on.

Everything is changing, and she's not sure where she fits in.

Then her sister's old boyfriend shows up, sparking memories of the summer when they were all happy and everything was perfect...

But along the way, Haven realizes that sometimes change is a good thing.