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This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen; Review

August 2, 2010

Title: This Lullaby

Author: Sarah Dessen

Published: May, 2002 by Penguin Group

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 3/5

Quote:

Whenever you made a choice, especially one you’d been resisting, it always affected everything else, some in big ways, like a tremor beneath your feet, others in so tiny a shift you hardly noticed a change at all. But it was happening.”

Synopsis:

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about? [From Goodreads]

Review:

Though I really am a Dessen fan, I wasn’t too pleased with Lock and Key (review). However, things “really picked up” with This Lullaby.

I suppose my main problem with the Dessen books I’ve read is that the main characters are flawed in very extreme ways. Great for character growth, but not for likability. Of course, I love watching characters grow, so I can except a few characters with, um, undesirable traits. However, I still haven’t run into a main character I liked as much as Macy in The Truth About Forever (review). So far, I feel like I’ve gotten an overload of Dessen main characters that give bad first impressions.

In the end, though, there was character growth (no, really?), and I learned to respect Remy a bit more. I did still have a bit of a feeling of having been “cheated.” I’ve mentioned time and time again that I believe love interests and main characters should be equally likable, respectable, etc. I did feel like Dexter (I love his name) was a little… better in those areas than Remy. Of course, complete equality isn’t always to be expected, and I was lucky to have that small of a problem with it. So, ultimately, I was pleased.

Besides The Truth About Forever, this book has been my favorite. It’s simple and lighthearted while achieving a sense of depth and strong emotional stress – an affect Dessen seems an expert at creating.

There’s some great banter in this book. I appreciate simple, enjoyable back-and-forth between characters, and this book has a lot of that. The bits with Dexter’s band and Remy are extremely entertaining and cute. I also enjoyed watching the band and the way the boys worked together. Although they were all older than me (as most young adult characters are, actually), I related and felt familiar with all of them. Boys at heart, for certain. Fourteen-year-old boys, some! (Honestly, they could be really immature. I wasn’t too surprised, though.)

In every one of the Dessen books I’ve read, there’s been some “oh-my-gosh-they’ll-never-be-together-it’s-the-end-of-the-world” event about halfway through the book, or just as the characters are getting too comfortable. I’m getting a bit wary of these predictable conflicts. It’s at those moments that I think: I’m reading the book equivalent of a chick-flick. Kill. Me. I’m not saying I don’t watch chick-flicks (because I do), and I’m not saying that they’re all terrible (because not all of them are). I’m saying that I do feel rather silly reading books with a plot line that primarily revolves around a love story – with hardly any other aspect. It doesn’t bother me until I get to those middle junctures where the “drama” sets in. They’re the closest these books come to cliche. I’m hoping that Along for the Ride (which I’ve just started) doesn’t give me the same feeling.

Dexter’s a very likable kid. I had a few problems with his general immaturity, and I can’t say I’m all that fond of his form of, uh, employment, but his overall goodness – the deep-down stuff that’s hard to find in people – is all it takes to make you love him. I liked his sticktoitiveness (my grandma’s word – meaning he doesn’t give up easily). I respected him for his charitable, kind, and pleasant attitude. Even when he was angry, I wasn’t too disturbed or irritated. He was simple being human, and human is a quality I like to see in people.

The scenes with Remy’s friends were cute. I liked the fact that they share a single history. It’s clear they’re a tight-knit bunch because of the way they deal with one another’s less admirable qualities. I think that Jess was one of my favorite characters in the whole book. Her sarcasm hid her gentility, in my opinion. She’s kind of the mother figure of the group, though she’s rough around the edges.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The prose still flowed in a magnificently uneventful way – as in: I hardly felt that I was reading. It seemed more like I was riding along with the main character as she went through and dealt with the events of the book. Remy’s growth was clear and gradual. It’s easy for the “personal revelations” in books to feel forced and overdone, but Sarah Dessen is a pro.

And chick-flick or not, her books are plain old good – and believe it or not, that’s pretty hard to accomplish.

Psst! Read an interview with me at Regan’s blog! – Writer Love: Special Feature on Madeleine

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Torrie permalink
    August 11, 2010 8:38 PM

    Haha, I get that chick-flick feeling often while reading Dessen, too. Loved the way you described that. I adored Dexter, though, immaturity and all. (And I loved his name too!)

  2. August 5, 2010 5:42 PM

    This has been on my shelf a while. I’ve learned that I need to take breaks between Sarah Dessen books or they all run together. (And The Truth About Forever is my favorite so far.)

  3. August 2, 2010 9:06 PM

    Along for the Ride… might give you that feeling xD
    I’m ecstatic you’ve converted to Dessen books, lovely review! I thought Dexter and the band were so adorable in this one :p

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