Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Lullaby


The Facts
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Hodder, 2008 (originally by Viking Juvenile 2002)
Length: 384 pages

The Fiction
From Goodreads: 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?

Ok, so I am a fairly new recruit to the army of Sarah Dessen fans – I only read my first SD novel late last year, but have now read almost all of her work. Funnily enough, I had picked up This Lullaby twice before, but never got around to reading it (how silly of me!). I really wish I had read it (and discovered the rest of Sarah Dessen’s work) earlier because she is just that good!
This Lullaby is now in my top three Sarah Dessen novels. One thing I especially like is that Dessen’s protagonists aren’t always ‘nice girls’ and Remy is a flawed character. Remy Starr is a heartbreaker - she is super cynical when it comes to love and is almost exclusively the ‘dumper’ in her short relationships. Whilst I didn’t personally share her views on romance, she is a well-developed character and I happily followed her journey as a character throughout This Lullaby. Then there’s Dexter. Sarah Dessen writes fantastic male counterparts/romantic interests for her heroines. Dexter is charming, funny and lives for the moment. He is a romanticist, an idealist and is obsessed with dares. He is just as well-developed as Remy (and he has flaws of his own) and as a reader, you can appreciate their banter, cheer their interactions and hope that their relationship succeeds.

What I also really enjoy about Sarah Dessen novels is her ability to craft amazing, quirky supporting characters! John Miller, in my opinion, is one of the best. Honestly, I probably could have read a whole novel from his point of view (especially if it included drunken John Miller and Dexter antics). She is skilled at writing female friendship and enjoyed the tight-knit group of Remy’s friends – Lissa, Chloe and Jess – who all get some lovely moments, drinking Cokes in the Quick-Zip car park or lying on a trampoline in the middle of an empty block of land. Remy’s family – Jennifer-Anne and Christopher in particular, the girls at Joie salon and the rest of Truth Squad, are all given the right amount of space to appreciate them and allowing the reader to appreciate why they are so important to Remy.

This Lullaby is an enjoyable read. Admirably, Sarah Dessen doesn’t rely solely on a romance-driven plotline, to produce a story about love and relationships. She also deftly handles family, friendship, identity and ambition in a well-rounded work. Whilst I do find that there is somewhat of a pattern to Dessen’s narratives having read most of her titles, her style of writing is so charming and skill for creating quirky, engaging characters overpowers this. This Lullaby is surely well-enjoyed by loyal Dessen fans, and would certainly be a title I’d recommend as a read-first to newbies.

10 comments:

Chachic said...

I still haven't read any of Sarah Dessen's books. What would you recommend to a newbie?

Girl Friday said...

Ohhh, Chachic I'd recommend This Lullaby, Lock and Key or Someone Like You :) I think you'd enjoy them!

Nomes (inkcrush) said...

great review :) i really like sarah dessen too and think it'd be pretty safe to say most teens would enjoy her books :)

I like lock and key as well, although my only complaint is that at 90k+ it's a little long at times. I also loved the truth about forever, but wasnt as into along for the ride as I had hoped :(

kate.o.d said...

i have such a (not so) secret crush on the sarah dessen books. my faves are 'lock and key' and 'just listen'. i've only read this one the once, so i must go back to it!

Girl Friday said...

Nomes - I agree, they can get a bit on the long side (I think it's because there are usually so many sub-plots going on). Along for the Ride was the first Dessen I read, so I really enjoyed it though now having read most of her novels now, I like other titles more. Love both Lock and Key and Truth About Forever.

Kate - Those two are my other picks for my Top 3 Sarah Dessen novels! I also loved Truth About Forever. Wish I'd read this earlier

Megan said...

Great review - I've read two of hers, and have enjoyed them as nice but not in my top YA reads. She has a massive following though.

Girl Friday said...

Megan - thanks! I find her writing to be really enjoyable and easy to read, but would agree that they aren't necessarily in my all-time top YA reads (I'm pretty sure I didn't have a Dessen title in my PS Top 10 YA books anyway).

sheisreading said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog. I am a Dessen fan as well. My favorite is 'Keeping the Moon.' I haven't read 'This Lullaby' but your review makes me want to check it out right away!
Heather

Girl Friday said...

Thanks for stopping by Heather - I haven't read Keeping the Moon yet (it seems to be a bit tricky to find in Australia), but I would definitely recommend This Lullaby :) Steph

Espana said...

Sarah Dessen is my favorite author. I love all her writings. This is a good book, but this is not what I really expected of her. I am not saying that this book is bad or what. Sarah Dessen still got the same simplicity but touching formula. The characters are still like the others whom I learned to love. The middle kinda gets slow, but as you get to the end, the juicy stuffs starts to get out. I love how Sarah Dessen makes a strong girl on the outside but weak on the inside. I will still collect all her books, and I will still expect a good Dessen story.

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