For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.
LONG STORY SHORT:
I liked That Summer but I did not enjoy it as much as some other Sarah Dessen books. The main character was quite likeable but a bit flat sometimes. I was missing some of her emotions and thoughts at times and I found that the focus was a bit too much on everyone else. The problems, though, that Haven had to face were very relatable and realistic and especially the second part of the book really got my attention and was quite entertaining and a bit heartbreaking at times.
Sarah Dessen was one of the first authors whose books I read in English which makes her one of the first YA authors I've gotten to know - and love. I'm pretty sure there will ever be a Dessen novel I won't like at all which was why I picked up That Summer a few weeks ago.
I wouldn't say I was disappointed with this book but also not as excited about it as I thought I would be. What I liked about the book was the situation Haven found herself in, that phase of changes that hits you unexpectedly and that brings so much confusion and insecurity with it.
There were some scenes where you could see very well how Haven felt like she did not fit in anywhere and how noone could understand her and how she wanted everything to stay the way it always has been, but then again there were so many other characters and their stories that Haven's own development got neglected. There is Haven's best friend who comes back from summer camp and starts having some issues with her parents, there is Haven's dominant older sister Ashley, there is Haven's mom and her dad and every character could have had their own book, but instead they were all crammed into one.
This, I guess, is why Haven's development, that turning point, came pretty surprising and rushed to me. It was more like a sudden realization that she had while I would've wanted to see progress a bit...slower and step by step.
However, That Summer is by far not as long as most Dessen books and Haven with her fifteen years is a lot younger than most of Dessen's characters. I'd recommend this book to younger teen girls, maybe thirteen and up, because it's a great read about dealing with that point in your life when you start seeing things clearer and growing into your own person. Older teens and adults might find that this book doesn't go into as much depth, but it can provide a great message - especially the one that some day we all wake up knowing a bit better who we are, leaving those weird times behind us :)
RATING: 2 out of 3 Smarties
Now on to the covers...
Again, I think it's very difficult to decide on which one I like more. I think the fact that you can see parts of the story reflected in the new cover (the boy and girl in the background are - I guess - Ashley and her former boyfriend Sumner) is a plus for cover no. 2 while the original cover is a bit random. I mean, the girl is probably supposed to be Haven, but otherwise it could belong with any other book that mentions the word "beach". So - also for those cool sunglasses - this time I'd vote for the new cover and regret for a while that I bought the old version :)
Happy Summer Reading!!!