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Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review:That Summer

Premise:A teenage girl struggles to adjust to changes in her life, including her father's remarriage and her sister's engagement.

Sarah Dessen


Cover taken from Sarah Dessen's website


A couple of annoying characters.

Life has changed a lot for Haven. Between her divorced parents and the two weddings she'll be attending, things have been pretty hectic. And then the return of her sister Ashley's ex-boyfriend stirs things up more.

Most of the plot shows how people react to the changes going on (Ashley and Lewis with the wedding, a couple of minor characters with their breakups, Haven's mom with the divorce, and let's not forget Haven herself). The tone felt pretty emotional. It reminds me of my angsty teen summers. Haven is stressed over everything that's going on. That part was good without feeling like she was whiny.

On the negative side, Ashley comes off as self-centered with her bridezilla routine. Yeah, I get that planning a wedding and getting married is stressful, but it doesn't mean you have to be a jerk to everyone around you. The worst part is when she calls Haven selfish for "choosing" to have a breakdown so close to the wedding. Haven's friend Casey was also kind of annoying with her rebellious attitude and obsession with her boyfriend. She does get better, but by then she doesn't appear much.

All in all, not a bad summer read.

Sex:Adultery is a large part of the plot. Ashley had tons of boyfriends before she got engaged. Her friends get her an exotic dancer for her bachelorette party. She shows up the next morning with his underwear around her neck.
A model is said to have worn a sweater that showed her nipples. She has a breakdown after she found her fiancee in bed with a teenage girl and a second man. Haven imagines the unpleasant image of her mother sunbathing topless in Europe with a friend. Ashley's flat-chested bridesmaid complains the dresses are too revealing. A fashion show includes suggestive outfits and motions, much to the shock and outrage of the mothers watching.
After catching her daughter smoking, a woman picks up a box and wonders if there are birth control pills in it. The daughter says she's still a virgin. Haven's friend Casey talks nonstop about her older boyfriend. She later eyes Haven's other friend Sumner and wonders why Haven isn't chasing after him. Haven is disgusted that Casey would twist her friendship with him into something sexual.

When a couple announces that they're expecting a baby, it's suggested they didn't wait until their wedding night to have sex.
end spoilers

Violence:A rude customer throws a shoe that ends up hitting Haven in the forehead. She retaliates by following the woman and doing the same to her. Mom violently defrosts the freezer. Haven imagines the ice pick slipping and hitting her mother in the eye. Later on, she fantasizes about ripping fabric banners from their bases, then herself growing gigantic and destroying the town. She also talks about her grandmother faking heart attacks and strokes to get attention.
Ashley once got into a car accident which resulted in a broken leg and stitches in her shoulder. She also hits her head on the door frame and states she wants to punch an obnoxious bridesmaid's face in. It's mentioned one of her exes died in a motorcycle accident.

Language and Insults:"D**n" and "G*d" are used fairly often and occasionally paired. "Sh*t", "crap", "b**ch", "a**", and "bas**rd" are said as well. Kids flip the bird.

Drugs and Alcohol:In her wilder days, Ashley was a partier who would come home late and unsuccessfully try to hide that she had been drinking. Her parents made sure to lock the liquor cabinet. Once, she got a tattoo while intoxicated. And she does get drunk at the bachelorette party.
The underage Casey smokes and drinks a beer, getting caught by her mother. A woman comments a model looks like she's on drugs. Haven wonders if said model is sedated. When Haven runs off to spend time alone, Casey tells her that her mom is wondering if she's on drugs, adding adults think everything involves drugs.
Alcohol is served at the first wedding, and Ashley gets drunk. One of Ashley's exes chewed tobacco, but only when she let him. Casey offers Haven a cigarette, getting no for an answer. Haven mentions her dad will sing the Lollipop Guild song when he's drunk.

Spiritual:Weddings take place in churches. Casey is said to quote from teen magazines as if they're the Bible itself. Giving her sister advice about what to wear to dinner, Haven calls one dress "too holy." She's a bit surprised to hear Ashley's big argument with her future-in-laws was about the caterer instead of something involving sex or religion. Ashley worries what they think of her, adding "these people go to church."
Someone describes a model as resembling a puppet, with strings going all the way up to God. There's a reference to ghost stories. Haven calls thinking of her mom at her father's second wedding as inappropriate, even blasphemous. Her boss keeps a calendar of Bible quotes.

So what did you think?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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