The Reading Shelf

I love reading books, especially Young Adult books of all kinds. I have a book reviewing blog (The Reading Shelf) that I try to update whenever I'm not reading or procrastinating on the internet.

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer - Sarah Dessen

This is Sarah Dessen’s very first ever book, and I’m afraid to say that it’s my least favorite as well.


Protagonist Haven is a big reason I am not a fan of this book. If you’ve read this book at all, then you probably know that Haven is tall. Why is this such a memorable trait? Because she brings it up and bitches about ALL THE TIME. Seriously, it was so irritating and frustrating that she has driven me to curse in my review of her book.


I understand that puberty is an awful time where you hate everything about you because you’re obviously so different and a freak and what self esteem? Never heard of it! But the author of this book is not going through puberty. Yes, you should try to get into the character’s head, but the way Haven refuses to see her great height as anything but a sign of being a freak seems a tad problematic. Being nearly six feet tall at age fifteen as a girl certainly makes you unusual, but it doesn’t mean you’re a freak. I have some friends are very tall and have been basically forever, or at least as long as I’ve known them, and, sure, they complain about their height sometimes, but ultimately they don’t let it completely define them. I don’t think I would have had such a problem with it if the book had ended with Haven learning to accept herself and her height and all the good things that would come from it, but she didn’t really. At one point she felt beautiful and not awkward, but it was only for a moment and she ended that moment knowing that she would just feel awkward again once it was over. Shouldn’t she end the book feeling beautiful, or at least not feeling like a freak and unintentionally (hopefully) making tall readers feel equally bad.


<!--more--><!--more-->This might be a bit spoilerish, so this is your warning. There was something I really appreciated about this book: there was no romance! There was a boy that I was worried about for multiple reasons, including the fact that he’s her sister’s ex-boyfriend and about five or six years older, but he didn’t become a love interest.


Overall though, I wasn’t a big fan of this book. It was short, which is the main reason I read the whole thing, but I also skimmed quite a bit. I was frustrated with the way Haven’s family treated her father’s new wife simply because she wasn’t like them (the Weather Pet? Seriously, she’s a person and not just some Barbie waiting around for you to mock her) and Haven was pretty judge-y internally when it came to her so-called best friend, not to mention a random model that never really seemed like a real character. There were some ok-ish parts, but overall I wasn’t a fan of Dessen’s first book and I’m glad to say that she definitely improved. I say stick to some of her later books.