Saturday, May 24, 2014
Why I love Sarah Dessen
I was introduced to Dessen's body of work in 9th grade. This girl Jess who sat next to me in honors English would lend me her mangas, and one day she was reading Dreamland. I was always a big reader, even back then, so she highly recommended it. Geez, was that book heavy!
Whenever someone is on the fence about Dessen, or they tell me they really don't like her work, my first question is, "Have you read Dreamland?" If they say no, I tell them they have to read it, because of all the books Dessen has written I think that one is her best. That book is hard to get through and deals with some heavy things so readers might find it hard to swallow, but I think it's an essential piece of literature. Go read it, right now!
One of the complaints I have heard about her novels are that they tend to be formulaic. I have also seen the phrase "A Sarah Dessen Book" used multiple times. I will admit that I noticed a lot of her protagonists come from broken and/or blended homes, so I think that is where some of the formulaic criticism is coming from. I don't think this aspect really takes away from her books, and since we live in a society where fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, I think it makes sense. It certainly helps for teens to better relate to the characters they are reading about. My parents have been married for 30 years, but even I found that I was able to relate really well to Dessen's protagonists when I read her books as a teen.
I enjoy Dessen, not only because I think her protagonists are very relatable, but because I love the intertwining of her novels. All of her novels are set in the beach town of Colby so sometimes characters from previous novels will show up as "cameos". I always loved that about her books, because if you are an avid reader of hers you will pick up on those "cameos" quickly. I love the idea of having companions pieces as opposed to trilogies or larger series so much that I am doing that with the two novels I am currently working on.
I always enjoy Dessen's work and feel like I get sucked into her books so easily. I was talking to a writer friend from college the other week about Dessen, and she said every time she thinks she won't like a new novel from Dessen when she reads it she remembers why she loves her books. I full heartedly agree.
Got a favorite Sarah Dessen book? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
Happy Reads Everyone!