Review: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Introducing post #2 in my *summer of Sarah Dessen*

I will forgo the formalities and skip an introduction to the author, as I have already given a brief bio in part one of my Sarah Dessen journey. I will, however give you a bit of background information on the book, and an interesting little fact.

Someone like you, first published in 1998, is Dessen’s second published book.

(Dessen, 2015)

According to Dessen, it also apparently has the biggest following of all her books.

(Dessen, 2015)

Moreover, the 2003 movie How to deal featuring Mandy Moore is based on That summer and Someone like you.

(Dessen, 2003).

I remember watching the movie, or, the cover at least looks very familiar. I also know that I had a slight obsession with Mandy Moore as a teen, so I must have watched it. The thing, I don’t remember anything about it. I may revisit the movie once my Sarah Dessen journey is over, if I can find it on Netflix. Nevertheless, I digress, so onto my review.

Someone like you

IMG_1898

When Halley receives a call from her best friend Scarlett, begging her to come home from summer camp, Halley doesn’t hesitate. Scarlett’s boyfriend Michael has died in a motorcycle accident, and it is now Halley’s turn to be there for the best friend that has always been there for her. But fate takes a twisted turn when Scarlett finds out she is pregnant with Michael’s baby. As Halley deals with an overbearing mother, and a new and complicated relationship, she must find a way to juggle life’s pressures, being there Scarlett, all the while staying true to herself.

(Dessen, 1998)

My thoughts

This book took me a little longer to read than That summer and Saint anything. I hate to admit it, but within the first two chapters, I realized that I would not enjoy this book as much as the other two. Before you all freak out and decide to burn me at the stake for my heresy, I would like to emphasize on the fact that I said I did not enjoy it as much – so I did enjoy it, it just wasn’t my favourite. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I will elaborate on what I liked, and what I didn’t like.

What I did like? Scarlett, Scarlett, Scarlett. She’s beautiful, charismatic, funny, smart, loyal -everything you look for in a best friend. But she’s more than that. She stands for what she believes in, she stays true to herself, and other than the fact that she gets pregnant in her junior year, I find she’s a good role model for Halley. I was also completely in love with their friendship:

“I know everyone will think I’m crazy or even stupid. But I don’t care. This is what I want to do. And I know it’s right. I don’t expect anyone to really understand.”

I looked at my best friend, at Scarlett, the girl who had always led me, sometimes kicking, into the best parts of my life.

“Except for me,” I said. “I understand.”

“Except for you,” she repeated, softly, looking up to smile at me. And from that moment, I never questioned her choice again.

(Dessen, 1998, p. 113)

Oh the feels! I’ve always wanted one of those BFFs friendships. You know, one of those Meredith Grey and Christina Yang kind of friendships (for those of you who don’t understand the reference, you need to watch Grey’s Anatomy). Sadly, I’ve always been slightly awkward at friendships, and usually get along better with guys. Good thing I get to live vicariously through the characters in the books I read (although I’m hopeful my platonic soulmate is out there somewhere).

Another character that made me happy is Cameron. He shows up at the right time and will completely make you fall in love. He’s also absolutely hilarious. I don’t want to give away the best part, so just keep in mind chapter nine.

So I guess you can say the main highlights, for me anyway, were the secondary characters. I find they brought life to the story, and I enjoyed it the most when the focus was on them.

I also found I could relate a bit with the struggles Halley and her mother had. I too had a hard time relating to my mother growing up; we never had the easiest of relationships, until my adult years. I also remember the guilt I felt whenever my mother and I would have a disagreement, just like Halley discusses at certain points in the story. I think most teens in general could identify with Halley in this aspect; that yawning gap between the self and the parent is something I think most people can empathize with, as we have all felt that at one point in our lives.

What I didn’t like? The ending. I DO NOT WANT TO SPOIL. However, let’s just say I’m a sucker for happy endings. And although this story did have one, it’s not exactly, or should I say, it’s not completely, the one I was hoping for. I apologize if this gave anything away, please forgive me. I confess that it is, however, a perfectly plausible, realistic, and fitting ending. I will say no more.

There’s also something about the story line that stopped me from getting thoroughly engrossed. It wasn’t one of those books I hated to put down. Real life happened and I was happy to put the book aside until I had time for it.

However, like most Sarah Dessen books (as I’m beginning to notice), it was an easy read. Dessen just has a way of making uncomplicated sentences seem beautiful. I think this passage gives an accurate picture, not only of Dessen’s maginificent writing, but also of what this novel is all about:

When I pictured myself, it was always like just an outline in a coloring book, with the inside not completed. All the standard features were there. But the colors, the zigzags and plaids, the bits and pieces that made up me, Halley, weren’t yet in place. Scarlett’s vibrant reds and golds helped some, but I was still waiting.

(Dessen, 1998, p. 23)

Overall, this is really a coming of age story, about finding yourself and staying true to who you are – so I definitely recommend it to adolescent girls out there.  For you parents out there that are a little uncomfortable with your teen reading about teen pregnancy, alcohol, drugs, and sex, don’t worry. I think you’ll be happy with the message the author is trying to convey. Still have some doubts? Give it a read, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Sincerely,
The Struggling Librarian

References
Dessen, S. (1998). Someone like you. New York: Viking.
Dessen, S. (2003). How to deal. New York: Penguin Books.
Dessen, S. (2005). Sarah Dessen. Retrieved from http://sarahdessen.com/

 

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