Sunday, April 28, 2013

Re-Read Review: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

This post is the third in my Sarah Dessen re-read weekend celebration.
One - The Truth About Forever 
Two - This Lullaby 
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen - Someone Like You is my favorite Dessen novel, and my copy is rather tattered from all the times I've re-read it.  The depth of Halley and Scarlett's friendship reminds me so much of my own friendship with my best friend even though our life choices do not map onto those of Dessen's duo.  In Halley and Scarlett, I see the key to Dessen's novels - the ability of her characters and their experiences to transcend the pages of the book and take up residence in the space around the reader.  Unlike much current fiction that strives so hard at world-building to help the reader escape from this one, Dessen's characters populate a world I recognize and sympathize with.  I cried with Scarlett when Michael died and wondered if he would have stayed when she found out she was pregnant.  I yearned for Macon to tell Halley he loved her as my more practical side screamed, "Run for your life; that boy is trouble!"  I cringed while Halley navigated tense conversations with her mother and celebrated the birth of Grace and the subsequent stake Halley makes on herself and her identity.  What I've discovered recently about re-reading is not only the comfort of a familiar storyline but the way my perspective on the story and the characters changes as I bring my new life experiences to the reading.  For example, the recent birth of my niece colored my perception of Scarlett's pregnancy, and the last lines of the novel really resonated with me as an encapsulation of all the things I want to teach Avarey (whose middle name is, ironically, Grace). Dessen writes from Halley's perspective,
“I hoped that Grace would be a little bit of the best of all of us: Scarlett's spirit, and my mother's strength, Marion's determination, and Michael's sly humor. I wasn't sure what I could give, not just yet. But I would know when I told her about the comet, years from now, I would know. And I would lean close to her ear, saying the words no one else could hear, explaining it all. The language of solace and comets, and the girls we all become, in the end.”
 At the risk of sounding borderline "Girl Power!" what I love about this quote is its acknowledgement of the evolution of character - one that I think Halley, and to a lesser extent Scarlett and Marion, exhibit in Someone Like You.  At the very least, Someone Like You is a reminder that ultimately we must lay claim to our own lives and live them confidently.

Best matched with best friends.

2 comments:

  1. Of all the YA I've read, Sarah Dessen is one author I've never tried. I'd probably say that is because I don't typically gravitate toward contemporary YA, but I think I should give her a try at some point since she is so well loved. I do have one of her books, Along for the Ride which I picked up at a library book sale, so I might start with that. I'm enjoying these re-read reviews you are doing though -- great idea!

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    1. Thanks - I'm really enjoying writing them!

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