Okay, I know that Sarah Dessen doesn’t exactly deal with “easy” issues in her books. It’s not like you think about the future, and go “hmmm, I’d like one of my daughters to develop depression and eating disorders, and another daughter to be sexually assaulted, then shunned by her school and end by taking up with the resident anger-management boy.” (That’s Just Listen, in case you didn’t recognize it.) But the relationships in her books are so gorgeously sweet, that when I want a happy book I find myself gravitating towards what she’s written.
(Possibly this is also because I am a very twisted individual.)
(Or possibly because I read Along for the Ride, and then Catching Fire.)
Anyhow, the story! In true Sarah Dessen style, she deals with divorce, the death of a friend, what it means to be a girl, and parental expectations. Plus what it means to grow up, and taking responsibility for people and things that are in no way your fault. (Are those last two things related? I WONDER.) However, despite what you may have heard on the Barnes and Nobles site, it does NOT contain scenes of- or references to- Auden loosing her virginity. *cough* (I have the author’s support on this on, you guys. I am secure.)
And the actual PLOT is that Auden has been an over-achiever her whole life. More than an over-achiever, she doesn’t know how to goof off. She basically missed all the insane things that teenagers do, or even just how to have fun, because she was so busy being a good, well-behaved mini adult. Um, I mean child. Her idea of impulsive and wild behaviour is that when her stepmother invites her to come stay with Auben’s new step-sister and her father, she says yes, packs for two weeks, and then goes to stay for the summer. Ooooo, that’s living on the edge.
But once she gets there, she finds that with no homework or school activities to do, she’s lost. The girls are terribly, well, girly. And the boys seem to be crazy and confusing, and everyone wants her to talk to them. Like meaningless chatter about jeans or dresses actually accomplishes anything! To make thing’s worse she’s an Insomniac, and her favourite haunts are now not accessible. She’s left with nothing to do but drink bad coffee at a surly diner and walk the boardwalk at night.
And then she meets a quiet boy, who doesn’t expect or want her to chatter. His name is Eli, and he’s insomniac as well, though for different reasons. Then from there it just unfolds inexorably, but still full of surprises, like life. Like the life that happens over a very hard, very good summer where a miniature adult learns to be a kid for the first time, and then a real adult (with relationships.) It was very sweet. I gave it four stars out of five.