That Summer - by Sarah Dessen
That Summer

"-a story of sharing and hope as Haven learns about self confidence."


Using her creative, easy-to-read style of writing, Sarah Dessen forms That Summer into a book of high interest to readers, especially teenage girls. The book describes Haven and her many struggles with her lack of confidence and her dissatisfaction with her life. 

With a few flashbacks of her previous happy years sprinkled in, the reader learns of the upcoming marriage of  Haven’s father to the “Weather Pet”, as Haven’s mom calls her. This remarriage causes many problems not only between Haven and her sister, but also turns Haven’s mother into a different person. In contrast to her petite and popular sister, Haven refers to herself as giant.  With boys on the mind, Haven begins to think of Ashley, her older sister, and her many boyfriends. These all seem to run together, except one boy, Sumner. Her remembrance of him and a recent encounter with him at a local restaurant renews their relationship for a short time.

Even though Sumner is a great listener and a problem solver at heart, he brings back memories of when Haven and Ashley’s parents were still together. This frustrates Haven and she begins to question why her life seems so horrible. Not only does Sumner work at the restaurant, he seems to show up everywhere Haven goes, even the mall where she is employed at Happy Feet. Her main memory of the family she once had involves a beach trip that Sumner went on with Haven’s family a few years earlier. In this section. Dessen shows that old relationships can have both positive and negative effects when brought back into a person’s life. On top of her issues with her own parents, Ashley is marrying soon, which causes stress within the whole family. To Haven, the house feels as if it is made out of yellow sticky-notes of wedding reminders for her mother.  As the wedding approaches and stress levels build, Haven retreats to her friend’s house, but is upset to learn she’s started smoking and obsessing over a new boy. Even though her friend has experienced a change in personality, Haven still sticks with her.  With only a few days before the wedding, Lewis and Ashley begin fighting, especially after Haven’s thoughtless comments. All of Haven’s stress and unsatisfactory feelings with herself build up and she does quite an outrageous thing to a customer at work. This only makes life worse, which leads to her run away six hours before the wedding rehearsal dinner.

That Summer could be portrayed as simply a teenage girl book; however if studied, there can be a real importance found. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good, easy read. It is a book that made me realize that my life could be a lot worse. I think the book is a well-written book with a main theme of self-confidence and the willpower to work through struggles. Overall, this story is one of sharing and hope for teenage girls.

   - Review by Macy W.