Sweet Summertime Reads: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Welcome back for another Sweet Summertime Reads review. Have you been keeping tabs on Tara and Ginger’s blogs for their summer reads and recommendations?

book cover for this lullaby by sarah dessenThis Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Released: March 8, 2004
Pages: 345
Target Audience: Young adult
Keywords: Commitment issues, relationships, divorce
Format: Paperback bought from Barnes & Noble.

Summary: It’s no surprise Remy has relationship issues after watching her mother’s four failed marriages and the start of a fifth. When Dexter won’t stop trying to win her adoration, Remy can’t believe she is giving into him when he is the opposite of everything she stands for. With plans to go far, far away to college after the summer is over, the last thing she wants to do is fall in love. But is she even capable?

Sarah Dessen. Oh, what is there to say about Sarah Dessen that hasn’t already been said? She’s wonderful, really. But maybe you’re sitting at your computer with little to no idea who she is. Maybe you’ve only read one of her books and you haven’t dipped into the early 2000s to dive into the pages of This Lullaby. Don’t worry – I’m right there with ya.

Reading ARCs is extremely fun and definitely a great honor, but I also want to balance that out with books that are recommended to me by other book bloggers. Plus, I think it’s nice to be able to say, “Oh, by the way, this one is available right now,”  and there’s no waiting game. All that said, a few bloggers (I’m lookin’ at you Ginger and Jess) mentioned that This Lullaby was their favorite Sarah Dessen book. I scrambled to the book store to pick it up because I needed a guaranteed WIN.

While I (obviously) haven’t read all of Sarah’s work, I was a little concerned that maybe it would be formulaic. I anticipated that this broken girl, Remy, with issues would find a great relationship, but her feelings would override her heart and it would end. I did This Lullaby a disservice by having this mindset while beginning the book. Sure Remy’s mom had been married five times and yes, this had left her broken and distrusting of any boys she dated. She didn’t feel like there was real love to be found. Her mom certainly wasn’t setting a great precedent.

Then entered Dexter.

Actually, he kind of collided into her life. He broke the mold of every other guy she had dated. In the past, she had relationships down to a science – knowing exactly when to break up with them, how to break up with the guy based on his personality, and what approximate timeline the relationship would follow before mere days had passed. Dexter, on the other hand, drove Remy a little crazy. Remy was extremely type-A and OCD, but around Dexter she had no choice but to let things slide. There was one thing about him that made Remy wary – he was a musician, just like her biological dad (that she never knew) was. Oddly enough, Dexter wasn’t deterred by this and he also understood firsthand Remy’s inability to commit – his mom was also married multiple times. More times, even, than Remy’s mom.

Remy was the kind of girl who was constantly on the run. She was never settled and permanence scared her. She was running away from babysitting her mom and nursing her through marriage after bad marriage. She was running away to college to start a new life. She had a group of best friends, but one fault I found in them is that they were quick to call out how she was changing with Dexter. They noticed he was changing her for the better, but they gave her a hard time. When things began to crumble, they finally spoke up about how Remy had mis-treated relationships in the past. I wish her friends had just been upfront with her sooner.

Dessen masterfully sets the tone for this book. The pacing was perfect and I enjoyed the twists and turns that popped up. Dessen surprised me and there were definite things that caught me off guard – a factor I very much appreciated. Though Remy was quite slow to figure out her feelings and I wanted to yell at her sometimes, I couldn’t have been happier that I decided to take a step back to read This Lullaby.

Make sure you check out Estelle’s review of This Lullaby, my review of Along for the Ride, and Estelle’s review of Lock and Key if you’re interested in more by Sarah Dessen.

Goodreads | Amazon

Estelle: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Released: March 8, 2004
Pages: 345
Target Audience: Young adult
Why I read it: Continuing my pursuit to read everything by Sarah Dessen.
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
Summary: It’s no surprise Remy has relationship issues after watching her mother’s four failed marriages and the start of a fifth. When Dexter won’t stop trying to win her adoration, Remy can’t believe she is giving into him when he is the opposite of everything she stands for. With plans to go far, far away to college after the summer is over, the last thing she wants to do is fall in love. But is she even capable?

 

My third official Dessen read. Another one I could not put down (yes, I was sneaking it under my desk at work!) but I was surprised to find myself a little bit disappointed by this one. I’m seeing by now that Dessen likes to write about girls who are battling with their own definitions of love and accepting it into their lives. No, that that’s a poor storyline. It never is, but I wanted more exploration into the secondary characters. In particular, Dexter. While I adored him, he remained very one-dimensional to me and I wished we could have learned more about what made him tick.

Don’t get me wrong, The Lullaby is still worth reading but I enjoyed Playing with the Moon and Lock & Key more. There are some telling moments with Remy’s mom in the book that are intriguing and touching, and actually become a huge part of Remy’s growth throughout the pages. What I like about her is that Dessen doesn’t make a boy the answer to all of Remy’s problems. Each of these young leading ladies need to figure out their own issues, and because that takes times, all the answers are not found out by the time you reach the end.

I applaud Dessen for never taking the easy way out and tying a pretty bow on the plotline.