Saturday, July 2, 2016


Dessen's YA books are what I'd call "quiet"; there's no apocalypse or threat of death to the protagonist, or an evil villain to be destroyed. (Frankly, I tend to like this type of YA better than the other.) Dessen captures the pain and difficulty of contemporary teens; the dialog feels authentic; the narrator is observant and honest ("I was getting side-eyed all over the hallways"); the parents and coaches are usually neither completely clueness nor perfectly evolved; her secondary characters don't simply exist to fuel or foil the protagonist's plot. The situation in this book is one that could be pulled out of newspaper headlines--Sydney's older brother Peyton makes a series of progressively worse decisions, ending with him being convicted of drunk driving and nearly killing a boy who was out riding his bike. If the refuge provided to Sydney by the Chatham family, whom she meets soon after the trial, feels a bit too ideal, I still bought it, largely because the Chathams had their own internal dynamic that wasn't centered around Sydney. I usually enjoy Dessen's work, and I liked this one, too.

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