Tag Archives: summer

Books #141, 146 & 148 – Sarah Dessen (again)

After my Sarah Dessen mega-post, I did manage to get my hands on the last three Sarah Dessen books I was missing. Most of what I’ve said about Dessen before still applies, so this will be a short-ish post on all three books, with blurbs and stars, really.

5664985Along for the Ride – Sarah Dessen

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

This book is set in Colby, the beach town which was the setting of Keeping the Moon, and has throwbacks to the characters and places we saw in that. Auden is a high-maintenance, perfect, pretty dislikeable girl who’s ‘not like other girls’ and I was all poised to hate her from the off. Dessen, however, has a way of making even the most judgemental girls seem humanised and get under their skin in a way that makes me love them. I loved Auden and I really, really liked Eli – I think he might’ve been my favourite character of any Dessen book – and the journey they went on together. This book did, to a degree, follow Dessen’s normal character arc – girl heads toward redemption during the summer until, near the end, something goes wrong, and then it’s all fixed at the climax of the book but, to be honest, I don’t care. I really enjoyed this book, and didn’t find it formulaic at all.
Four Stars
****

8492856What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

What Happend to Goodbye is back in Lakeview, home of most of Dessen’s books, and it’s a quiet, unassuming sort of book. McLean is on her fourth school in two years, and has taken on a new persona in each of them so far. But in Lakeview, something happens, and she suddenly starts to be McLean again. Making new friends and finding a guy all come together as she finds who the true McLean is and starts to get past her parents’ divorce – it all sounds wonderful, but this one didn’t sit as well with me as lots of others. There was nothing really happening in the book, just a gentle sort of exploration of self, which was fine by me, until it all went wrong at the end. Things blew up really fast, and settled down again equally fast in a way which I thought was pretty damned unrealistic – it soured a book which I was quite enjoying up until then.
Three Stars
***

16101126The Moon and More – Sarah Dessen

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

Sarah Dessen’s devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

Knowing this was my last Sarah Dessen book for a while (until she publishes again, what?!), I was prepared to give extra stars to this one for the sake of it. As it turns out, though, I didn’t need to. This book was enough of a departure from Dessen’s normal relationship arc that I found myself enjoying it for its own sake and not just because I wanted to enjoy it – Emaline’s relationship with Luke, with her dad, her brother, her sisters, her mom, her friends, and Theo, all enthralled me – I think this is one of Dessen’s best books, a perfect example of a gentle summer read about a girl finding herself and enjoying life along the way.
Four Stars
****

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Books #97 and #101-104 The Sisterhood Series

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Full Series The Sisterhood series is one of those series of books which both my sisters and I all ready – so much so, that I’m not actually sure which books belong to whom in the series. The first four sisterhood books were a complete arc, four books, four girls, four summers, and they resolved (or so I thought) the YA series which I was so fond of (although I always felt that Lena got shafted with the same storyline four times). So I was surprised when, last year, having discovered GoodReads, I realised that there was a fifth sisterhood book. It’s set ten years after the fourth one, and it promised some drastic changes…

In any case, I’m starting at the end, when I should start at the beginning!
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

Girls in Pants
Forever in Blue
Sisterhood Everlasting – all by Ann Brashares.

The Sisterhood series follows four very different girls, who are the best of friends since birth. Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget were all born within seventeen days of each other, their mothers meeting at an aerobics class. The summer they all turned sixteen, the first they would ever spend apart, they found a pair of magic pants, which fit all four of them – from Tibby’s short stature to Lena’s classic Greek beauty, Carmen’s Latina ass to Bridget’s athletic build – not just fit them, but made them all look beautiful. Clearly a sign, the pants were what would hold the four of them together over their summer, passed between the girls like a magic bonding, a tangible sign of their sisterhood.
Over the first four sisterhood books, all of which are classed as YA fiction, we see the girls grow up, fall in love, have sex, make friends, lose friends, lose family members, gain family members, start college, find their callings, and stick closely to their September sisters.
The fourth book was published in 2007, when I was sixteen (although I was probably seventeen by the time I read it), and I considered the series done, a happy reminder of something my sisters and I shared, sitting in Sinéad’s bookcase. I enjoyed them all, although I considered Forever in Blue the weakest of the four, and would happily recommend them to anyone. I even had the first film on DVD, although I never managed to watch the second.

So I was surprised when, last year, I realised that there’s a fifth Sisterhood book. Called Sisterhood Everlasting, it’s set ten years after the fourth book, and the Septembers have grown apart. Living different lives, they’re called back together by Tibby sending them tickets to a holiday on the Greek island of Santorini, which played such a big part in their sisterhood before. But on their trip, the girls don’t realise that their lives will change forever.

Because it had been so long since I’d read the first four books, and I was home anyway, I read books 1-4 while I was home in Ireland during August. Sisterhood Everlasting, then, I had on my Kindle, and read on the plane home.

I’m not gonna go too much into the story of it, because I’m not keen on spoilers. Looking back completely neutrally, as far as plot and character development go, I should probably have given it a lower rating than I did. A few of the girls seem stuck in the same ruts that they’ve been in for the last thirteen years (for the LOVE OF GOD, Lena and Kostos) and poor Carmen gets shafted once again when it comes to romance, plus Bridget seems to be the same kind of madcap girl she was when she was sixteen, prone to running away as soon as things get tough. But, that said, perhaps people don’t really change that much from when they’re teenagers to when they’re nearly thirty – I’m not nearly thirty yet, so I am no authority on the subject.

At the time, I really enjoyed Sisterhood Everlasting. Looking back now, I could certainly pick holes in it, and make criticisms, but as an experience, catching up again with the Septembers (although very shortly after the last time I had read the first four books), learning what they had been through in the ten-year interim (turns out, not much…) and going through a tumultuous time when they found their sisterhood again, I thoroughly enjoyed it (and cried buckets).
As a standalone novel, perhaps Sisterhood Everlasting wouldn’t have gained such a high rating from me, but it certainly was a lovely, poignant, and beautiful addendum to a series which I thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger, and did again when I read it last month. Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending the Sisterhood to any of my friends, or my sisters (although they’ve obviously already read them).

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants
Four Stars
****

Forever in Blue
Three Stars
***

Sisterhood Everlasting
Four Stars
****

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Boredom

What with the summer being two months gone, and a month to go, and everybody well and truly ensconced in their homesteads, and only working three shifts a week, and Seamus being off home (and complaining about it, too), I gotta say the boredom is kicking in strongly.
Today, I slept ’til two-ish, then got up, wandered out for a bit, went to the library, read half a book, then realised I’d forgotten my card, so I couldn’t get it out, and eventually made it home, where I emptied the dishwasher (with Sinéad‘s help), made a sandwich, made tea for my mother, then wandered upstairs to my bedroom, and Bob, good old Bob.

But even the internet is losing its pull at the moment. I’m extremely bored, and I wish I had something interesting to do. *sigh*

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