Thursday, December 04, 2008
weekly book review: this lullaby, by sarah dessen
Although I review nearly all the books I read, I honestly wasn't planning on reviewing This Lullaby; I guess because I've already written on a string of YA titles recently and figured interest would be minimal.  But, I then felt bad for Ms. Dessen for some reason, and so here it is anyway.  I'll leave it to you to decide your own level of interest...

As far as love goes, Remy is a cynic.  Having a mother who's been married five times will do that to a girl.  She's had her fair share of boyfriends, but Remy always knows to give them "the speech" before things get too serious.  She's a careful girl with big plans, and isn't about to let any man disrupt her meticulous life.

That is, until she meets Dexter.  On the surface, Dexter is the polar opposite of Remy.  He's messy, free-spirited, disorganized, and hopelessly romantic.  He's also a musician, just like Remy's father - a man Remy has never met, and who she only knows through the lyrics of the famous ballad he penned for her: "This Lullaby."  Although Remy knows that Dexter is not the man for her, he refuses to accept her cold logic.  His relentless persistence eventually pays off, and although Remy knows their relationship won't last - that it's just a summer fling -  the longer they're together the more serious it gets, and the harder it becomes for her to harden her heart and throw this one over.

As a high school English teacher, it's been a small source of embarrassment for me that I've never read a Sarah Dessen novel.  She's one of those names that is constantly being buzzed among students and critics alike, and so though the premise of this novel hadn't particularly hooked my attention, I decided to give it a shot just the same.  

From this one, admittedly limited experience, I really appreciated Dessen on a feminist level. Remy is a fairly realistic teenage girl who is strong, independent, and who isn't looking for a boy to "complete" her.  In that respect, Remy is a great role model for young girls.  She takes care of herself, and shows girls that marriage is not requisite to happiness.  If I had a teenage daughter, I would whole-heartily encourage her to read Dessen's novels; and because they're so engaging, I don't think my fictional teenage daughter would put up much of a fight.   Furthermore, it is nice to read a YA title where no one is in a gang, dealing with substance abuse, battling an eating disorder, suicidal, getting raped, murdered or murdering someone else.  Seriously, YA books without these issues are becoming increasingly rare, and it's refreshing to read something that's not as weighty in its subject matter, yet still doesn't sacrifice intelligence.

So, even if This Lullaby wasn't necessarily the book for me, it's a title that I'm happy to own and feel comfortable lending out to pretty much any teenage girl.  If you know one,  Sarah Dessen is a good author to share.

Sarah Dessen
2002, 345 pages

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Blogger Carrie said...

Well, on the young adult front, don't think that people aren't interested. There was a discussion at family breakfast on Sunday about 13 Reasons Why- I bet more people than you think read your reviews.

This sounds like one I may check out- I'm compiling a mental list of books to read while I'm unemployed, and this could be a nice diversion.

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