Dear Sarah Dessen

I remember the first book of yours I read, That Summer, which took me about three summers to finish–not because I didn’t like it, but because it was so different. It was packed with so many layers and complexities that made me question “was I really reading a young adult novel?”

that summer

You tackle family issues in a way that is so viscerally relatable. That Summer dealt with more than just a young romance, in fact, it wasn’t even a romance novel. Haven was dealing with the emotionally polarizing experience of a broken home: there is no right side to pick and it’s always the children who get caught in the crossfire. She also was dealing with the painful experience of how friendships grow and change–sometimes for the worst and sometimes for the best. I could understand that and I think what kept me distant from the book for so long was the mirror it held to my own family and the experiences I was going through at the start of high school and my teenage years.

While I did finish That Summer–and loved it–my favorite novel of yours is This Lullaby.

this lullaby

This novel also examined the sharp ridges of a broken family. What I loved most was the fact that you showed how coming from a “broken” family can affect one’s idea of love and relationships. Remy’s resolutions about love and practicality reflected my own and I found myself yelling at and sympathizing with her stubbornness.

The book was also funny and it was cute and it was warming. It gave the reader hope, which I find to be the theme of your work: one can go through all of these painful experiences, but at the end of the day there still lives that hope that tomorrow will be better.

Thank you for that hope. Thank you for the anecdotes. And thank you for making “broken” and blended families as human, flawed, and beautiful as they are.

xoxo

Stephanie

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