Sarah Dessen is a New York Times bestselling author known for her YA books about teenage girls. Her debut novel, That Summer, launched her into the world of YA and summer books. Since then, she has published 13 more novels, each wonderfully unique in their own ways. Dessen’s books have been dubbed as beach reads and summer novels, but in my opinion, her books have much more depth than at first glance. Here is a review of her books and how they connect to real life.
Sarah Dessen’s Books
Sarah Dessen’s 14 books are as follows, in order of publication date:
- That Summer
- Someone Like You
- Keeping the Moon
- This Lullaby
- The Truth About Forever
- Just Listen
- Lock and Key
- Along for the Ride
- What Happened to Goodbye
- The Moon and More
- Saint Anything
- Once and For All
- The Rest of The Story
The very first Dessen book I ever read was Lock and Key, a novel that follows Ruby after her mother leaves and she is forced to live with the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years. I fell in love with the writing, the way that Dessen weaves a magical story and pulls you in. Since then, I have read each and every single one of her books, my favorite being Saint Anything. Saint Anything is an emotional story following Sydney, a girl whose family has been shattered. While attempting to put her life back together, she meets the Chatham family who make her feel like she truly belongs somewhere. Saint Anything deals with deep topics and themes of loss and family. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.
Connections to Real Life
Each of Dessen’s novels feature a teen girl as the main character and typically take place during the summer. While on the surface these books seem like a typical YA novel with a cute plot and no real meaning, rest assured that there is so much more to these novels. Many of Dessen’s books delve into the long term implications of traumatic incidents or life-changing events. A few examples of such events include a brother being sent to prison, a parent’s passing, or bitter divorces. The main characters of each book struggle with the aftermath of these events. The characters typically find themselves lost, unsure of who they are or what they want out of life.
Part of why I really enjoy Dessen’s books is because it explores these darker themes in a positive and realistic way. She sheds light on how a teen’s life can be majorly impacted and altered, breaking away from the stereotype that teens are carefree and reckless. In most cases, Dessen writes a positive, happy ending for her characters, even if they aren’t the ending that readers expected. Although a happy ending is not always realistic, it makes for an emotional read that still leaves the reader fulfilled.
Connections Between the Books
An extra aspect of Dessen’s novels unique to her are the connections she makes between the different books. Each of her novels focuses on a different girl and her journey, but Dessen still manages to intertwine the different stories. Most of her novels are set in a few select towns. For example, Keeping the Moon, Along For the Ride, and The Moon and More are all set in the beach town of Colby. Other books are also set in the same locations.
Because the books are set in the same few towns, characters from previous books make appearances in other books or are mentioned. Dessen clearly put a lot of thought into building the world in which her books are set in, because she’s able to bring in some fan-favorite characters from other books into any novel without taking away from the main story. I always get excited when I see the main character of another book referenced in the novel I’m currently reading: it ensures that you always stay connected to some of your favorite characters and stories!
All in all, Sarah Dessen remains one of my favorite authors and her books never fail to enthrall me. I wholly recommend her books to everyone- not just those who enjoy YA. Her books contain life lessons and themes that apply to everyone, regardless of age. Not only are her books thoughtful and deep, they’re also just plain entertaining! Her characters are lovable and multidimensional, with realistic flaws and moments where the reader may be completely frustrated by their choices. Dessen is a masterful storyteller and her novels are definitely amazing and beautiful!
Are you a fan of Sarah Dessen? If so, what are your favorite novels and do you agree with this review? Let us know in the comments!
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