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Ranked and Reviewed: Sarah Dessen

Happy Monday To All My Fellow Readers :)

I'm so excited to finally be able to share the post I've been working on for three and a half weeks. As I mentioned in a couple of other posts, I've been wanting to share this one with all you guys for quite some time, but the weather just wouldn't cooperate outside and so I had to keep postponing my photoshoot for it. I'm finally here today to share it with you all though, and I hope you all really enjoy it.

I've been wanting to do a ranked and reviewed post for awhile, and thinking about some recent life tragedies that people around me have been facing,  had me thinking about Sarah Dessen's amazing books. Sarah Dessen is one of those authors who can write a heartbreaking, breathtakingly beautiful coming of age contemporary with family drama, teenage angst, tear jerker scenes, and swoon worthy romances. I've always loved how her novels aren't afraid to explore real issues, and she was definitely the author that came to mind for me when I started planning this blog post in the midst of everything else going on.

As we're just over a month away from her thirteenth novel, Once and For All, releasing, I thought it was perfect timing to share my opinions on her previous twelve novels with all of you guys.

Now I'm going to preface this by saying guys that I adore Sarah Dessen's books. Her first novel, That Summer, was one of the first books that really pulled me into YA fiction, and so you're probably not going to see a whole lot of negative comments in my reviews today. There have definitely been some of her books that I've enjoyed more than others however, and so let's go ahead and jump into ranking and reviewing Sarah Dessen's amazing novels!

12) The Moon and More:

Coming in for me at number twelve, is Sarah's 2013 release, The Moon and More. This particular novel tells the story of Emaline, a recent high school graduate who's been in the same comfortable relationship forever, and is starting to wonder if there's something else out there. Growing up in the coastal beach town of Colby, New Jersey, where most people come to visit but not to stay, Emaline's dealing with family drama in the form of an absentee father, and the same old hum drum of her seemingly perfect life. However, when an ambitious college film student ends up in her boring beach town from the exciting streets of New York, Emaline is unprepared for the chemistry that ignites between the two of them, and finds herself questioning the comfortable relationship she's always taken for granted.

For me personally, right from the synopsis I suspected this one was not going to be my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, and I was unfortunately right. Characters with wandering eyes are generally not my forte, and that was definitely the case with this particular novel. I had a really hard time relating to Emmaline, and I couldn't stand Theo's character; which made me even less sympathetic towards her attraction to him.

I rated this one 3/5 stars, and it's definitely the Sarah Dessen novel that I've read the least amount of times.

11) Someone Like You:

Coming in at number 11 is one of Sarah's earliest novels, Someone Like You. This particular novel was adapted with her other novel That Summer into the movie How To Deal starring Mandy Moore. I honestly thought  this one was going to end up being one of my favorites, as it deals with some pretty serious issues between the main characters. I especially loved how the primary focus of this one is on Haley and Scarlett's friendship, and the struggles that threaten it after Scarlett's boyfriend isl killed in a motorcycle accident, and she learns she's carrying his child. However, where this one fell a little short for me was in Macon's character. I really couldn't understand Halley's fascination with him, and I didn't particularly like how everything was resolved in the end.

I still do really enjoy this early work by Sarah Dessen, it's just not my favorite of her novels, and I rated it three out of five stars as well.

10) Lock and Key:

Lock and Key comes in at number ten. This one tells the story of high school senior Ruby who finds herself in a unfavorable situation when her mother takes off and leaves her with no means of providing for herself. Her situation only gets more uncomfortable when she's shipped off to live with her older sister who's been absent from her life for several years, and her obnoxiously rich husband. Throw in the good looking guy next door who's proof that money doesn't solve everything, and suddenly Ruby's life has taken a turn she never could have seen coming.

I adored this novel in so many ways, especially how the title Lock and Key is such an integral piece of the story. I also rated this one three out of five, because while I loved it overall, I really wasn't a fan of the ending, but it's definitely still a great story, and is one I would definitely recommend to others.

9) Dreamland:

Dreamland is one of those novels that will leave you heartbroken and shattered, but probably not wanting to reread it anytime soon. This particular novel tells the story of Caitlin, who's dealing with a missing sister, a withdrawn mother, school and friendship issues, and not really living her life for herself anymore. All of that seems to change when Rogerson enters the picture. All of a sudden Caitlin's whole existence is tied up with his, and she's never known anyone quite as dangerous, thrilling or compelling as him before. Soon though Caitlin is realizing that having no existence apart from a boyfriend is not the smartest move either, and how do you get back out when you've dug a hole deeper than yourself?

I can't even stress how much I recommend this book to every single young woman out there. I love how Sarah Dessen didn't sugercoat the brutal realities of abusive relationships, and I think any woman out there could benefit from reading this.

I gave it four out of five stars, and It's definitely a book that continues to impact me even years later from when I first read it.

8) What Happened To Goodbye:

My choice for number 8 is this beautiful story about a girl who's determined to leave her past behind amidst being estranged from her mother and her mother's new family. Mclean and her father have been on the move ever since her parent's messy divorce. Her dad's a restaurant consultant, and has moved them to four different towns over a two year span. Mclean's learned early on from watching what her dad went through with her mother that forming attachments is never a good idea, and so instead she invents a new persona for each town they travel to, and is always willing to toss it and everyone she meets aside when it's time to move on.

What happens though when town (and one guy!) change everything? Suddenly Mclean finds herself second guessing everything she thought she wanted, and I found myself easily sympathizing with her character, and the negative effects her parent's divorce had on her disposition.

I rated this book four out of five stars, and it really touched me as I remember all too well the early days of my parent's divorce. I'm beyond belief thankful that my parent's get along decently nowadays, but that certainly wasn't the case at the start, and this novel would be the perfect recommendation for any young girls or really any women anywhere who've had to watch their parent's go through divorce proceedings. I absolutely loved this one!

7) That Summer:

For number seven, I have to go with the book that started it all for me. That Summer was published in April of 2006, and I read it shortly thereafter. A novel that's unique for the YA genre that focuses entirely on a young teenager coming to terms with changes in her life, instead of on a romance element. Haven is fifteen, and she's slowly watching her life come apart at the seams around her. Her father is getting remarried; and this is of course causing tension with her mother, her perfect older sister Ashley is currently planning a wedding of her own; and Haven doesn't particularly like her choice of grooms. By chance, Haven's awful job at the mall shoe store causes her to run into an old boyfriend of Ashley's, and rather than this introducing a romantic element, it reminds her of the good old times when Ashley was nicer, their whole family was closer, and life just made more sense.

I read this coming of age story at a time that literally felt like it had been written just for me. I purchased it to read as one of my vacation reads as my family was preparing to take our annual week long vacation to one of our favorite resorts. That year, for the first time of many to come, my older sister decided she was too old to be joining us on this yearly excursions, and so I definitely found myself identifying with what Haven was going through.

It's been almost eleven years since I first read this one, but it still stands out to me as an amazing YA contemporary that I give four out five stars, and will definitely be continuing to recommend.

6) Keeping The Moon:

My choice for number six tells the story of Colie; a young teenager who's been picked on most of her life. First, before she started working out and eating better, Colie was picked on for being overweight. A fact that was made worse by the notion that her mother was a superstar fitness guru. Secondly, due to horrible misunderstandings, Colie has gotten the reputation of being "easy", and everything just goes downhill from there. Sent to stay with her eccentric aunt to the small beach town of Colby, New Jersey for the summer, Colie's not expecting much. However, this summer turns her life around in ways she never could have expected when she gets a job at the town's local cafe, and soon finds herself an electric cast of friends who just might make this summer her best ever.

I stated earlier how I love that Sarah Dessen isn't afraid to tackle real issues facing most teenagers today. And let's be honest, bullying and slut shaming are definitely issues that average teenagers have had to suffer through, and I love how it's not sugar coated in this story. Colie was an amazing protagonist, and this was really the first one of Sarah Dessen's romances that had me outright swooning, and in love with every single page.

I gave this one five out of five stars, and I can't begin to describe how much I love it, or how many times I've found myself rereading it.

5) This Lullaby:

My choice for number 5 is one of my all time favorite Sarah Dessen novels. This Lullaby is Remy's story, and is a poignant coming of age novel about her backwards opinions on love during the summer of her mother's upcoming marriage to husband number five. Remy's always made sure that she keeps things fun and casual with the relationships she chooses, and always on her own terms. When Dexter comes into the picture, Remy can't figure out the attraction that exists between them. After all, he's nothing like the typical guys she chooses, and yet suddenly, she finds herself questioning everything she's ever believed about love.

This novel has been one of most reread ones from my entire TBR shelf. I love how it addresses the backwards beliefs Remy's gotten about love from her mother who can't seem to stay content in a relationship. I also loved the added dynamic of Dexter's band, and the "hate Spinnerbait" line still cracks me up every single time I read it. This is definitely another five out of five star read for me, and would be a great introductory novel for anyone who's never read Sarah Dessen before.

4) Just Listen:

Just Listen is another Sarah Dessen novel that dives into real issues facing teens today including eating disorders, rape, and friends turning against one another. Annabel has become known as "the girl who has everything", not necessarily because she does have everything, but because her career as a teenage model landed her the TV commercial role of the girl who has everything. However, a year later, Annabel feels like she's now the girl who has nothing. Her older sister is dealing with anorexia, her older sisters aren't speaking because of it, and she's been ostracized from her group of friends thanks to her best friend's boyfriend.

Annabel's going day to day with only having herself to depend on, until Owen Armstrong enters her life one day. On probation for his anger management issues, Owen is music obsessed, and committed to telling the truth in all circumstances, no matter what the outcome of doing so is. Suddenly Annabel finds herself falling for eccentric Owen and the way he's showing her to love life again. But Annabel's been keeping her secrets to herself for too long, and she'll soon discover that sometimes you need to trust friends and family to finally start the road to healing and recovery.

I completely adored every page of this thought provoking novel, and the controversial issues it deals with. This is one that I've actually read several times in a single year before, and it's another one that I gave five out of five stars to. 

3) Saint Anything:

In my third spot is Sarah's newest release prior to Once and For All, and that of course is Saint Anything. In this one we meet Sydney, a teenager girl who's never measured up to her perfect older brother Peyton. Peyton's the one her parent's doted on, believed in, and sacrificed for, and Sydney learned to be content with the leftovers. However, everything changes when Peyton's reckless behavior leads to a night of drunk driving which in turn causes a massive accident and a jail sentence.

Suddenly, Peyton is still her parent's main area of focus, but it's in a whole new way. Life all of a sudden is about lawyers, hearings and jail visits; and Sydney's still struggling to find her place among all this. That all changes when she meets the Chathams; a family that runs the local pizza place, and is everything her family is not.

Sydney finds herself spending all her time with them, and falling her their son, Mac. However, there's much in Sydney's life that isn't resolved, especially her brother's creepy friend and his fascination with her; and Sydney is going to need the Chatham's and her parents now more than ever.

I was a little hesitant to pick this one up at first, after being so disappointed with Sarah's previous release The Moon and More, but this book blew away every expectation I ever could have had for it, and I can't recommend it enough. This is another five star read for me, and I need to pick up my own copy of this one ASAP!

2) Along For The Ride:

My choice for the number two spot is this poignant story about two teenagers who are learning to love and live again, amidst the chaos of the last couple of years that had them both stop trying. Auden is an insomniac; she hasn't been able to sleep properly ever since her parent's started fighting, split up, and her dad got himself a new family. Life with her mother has never been easy, as Auden has had to live up to trying to be the perfect daughter; a feat that her mother never seems to notice anyways.

But this summer her life's is going to change in big ways. She's visiting her dad and his new family in the small beach town of Colby, New Jersey, and a new job at the local boutique store introduces her to a new world of friendship, and a first true chance at romance with one of the locals, Eli. Eli is a fellow insomniac life herself, and their romance starts out as swoon worthy and adorable, however, they're both still hiding big skeletons in their closets, and it will take overcoming this for them to finally be able to move on with their lives. 

I can't even stress how much I loved this story, and I mean every single word that composed this 383 page novel. I loved Auden as a character, and the way she learns to overcome her insecurities over what she feels are her shortcomings, the friendships she develops both with her new friends at the boutique and with her new stepmom, and especially the romantic relationship that develops between her and Eli.

I can't recommend this one enough, and it's another five star read for me!

1) The Truth About Forever:

And finally, my favorite Sarah Dessen book of all time is The Truth About Forever. Macy hasn't had it too easy lately. Her father has passed away suddenly, her and her mother don't always see eye to eye; especially since her mother's obsessed with perfection as of lately, and her boyfriend calls it off with her before he leaves for brain camp for the whole summer. All of a sudden Macy sees her whole summer becoming about working at the library, and helping her mother in her real estate business. However, sometimes things change when we least expect them to, and a chance meeting with a crazed catering crew gives Macy everything she didn't know she'd been missing, including introducing her to Wes; a guy who just might be exactly who she's been looking for.

Words cannot even express how much I loved this amazing novel. It was one of those ones that really pulled me back out of a reading slump, and got me addicted once again to Sarah's writing style. Macy and Wes are my all time favorite Sarah Dessen couple, and I can't even begin to guess how many times I've recommended this book to others. This gets once again the full five star rating from me, and I really hope that anyone who hasn't read this one yet definitely will take the time to do so.

And that is how I currently rank and review Sarah Dessen's novels guys. I can't wait for Once and For All to release.

This post has definitely made me wanna go back and reread all her novels again, and I can definitely foresee myself doing this in the near future.

Thanks so much for reading guys, and I'll see you all in my next post.

This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The photos belong to me, and were taken with an Iphone. 


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