Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celebrating Sarah (or why Sarah Dessen's books are amazing)

Today is the release date of Sarah Dessen’s tenth novel, WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE. A review will come once I’ve finished the book, but I thought I’d take a minute to talk about why Sarah is a remarkable author. She’s a New York Times bestseller, and rightfully so. Her books tackle real-life issues, from divorce to abuse to striving for perfection. There is a character or plot point that everyone can relate to in some form. I started reading her novels during my sophomore year of high school, and since then she has become my favorite author.
My first—and favorite—Sarah Dessen book is THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. Hands down. It’s a story about a girl’s desire to be perfect and how she comes to realize that perfection isn’t everything. The novel has Sarah’s trademark quirky characters—Bert, a teenage boy obsessed with Armageddon; Kristy, who wears outrageous outfits and always speaks her mind; and Wes. Oh, Wes. He is my favorite Sarah Dessen character of all time. He finds flaws endearing, which Macy—the main character—has a hard time grasping at first. But the more time she spends around Wes, she begins to embrace her imperfections and learns to live.  

ALONG FOR THE RIDE was the last novel Sarah released before WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE. I was intrigued immediately by the first line on the book’s inside flap: "It’s been so long since Auden slept at night.” Auden first stopped sleeping because she believed her parents wouldn’t fight if they knew she was awake and listening. After her parents’ divorce, she couldn’t shake the habit and became an insomniac. While she’s spending time with her dad and his new wife at the beach, she meets Eli, another insomniac. Together they explore the beach town at night, experiencing everything that most people sleep through.
That’s one of my favorite aspects of Sarah’s books. She gives her characters unique circumstances, yet makes them relatable to all readers. Even if your mom isn’t a famous exercise instructor or you aren’t a member of a quirky catering company, you know how the characters feel. Sarah’s characters are so real, I half-expect to run into them on the street.

The new promotional tagline for Sarah’s books is “Sarah Dessen: Read her once and fall in love.” If you are or have ever been a teenage girl, and you haven’t read one of her books yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll fall in love.

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