Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Someone Like You

Dessen, Sarah. 1998. Someone Like You. Penguin. 281 pages.

I loved this book. I did. If you haven't read Sarah Dessen, you really should. Dessen, in many ways, is in a class all her own. There's the typically-delightful reading of a YA romance. (Something that I do a good bit of. And I enjoy almost everything in varying degrees.) And then there is the oh-so-wonderful-and-satisfying reading of a Dessen YA romance. There's just something about her work that is better, deeper, fresher. (I don't think awesomer is a word.)

In Someone Like You, we've got our heroine, Halley, and her best friend, Scarlett. When the novel opens, Halley is at summer camp when she gets the call that Scarlett's boyfriend, Michael, has just died. And so this often raw always emotional story begins. A story of friendship and love as Halley helps her friend through this trying time but also of loss and confusion as Scarlett discovers that she is pregnant and decides to keep the baby for better or worse. But this isn't just a story of Scarlett's life, of Scarlett's troubles. No, Halley has a life of her own. And her junior year is getting off to a weird--but wonderful--start when she begins falling for Michael's best friend (and ever-so-bad-bad), Macon. As her own relationship gets started, she's ever-questioning her life and love. Is she ready to go all the way? Does Macon love her even if he never says he does? Is she ready to open up herself to that kind of risk? Not only the risk of pregnancy, but the risk of having her heart trampled on by a boy who is more elusive than not. How much does she really know about him? about herself?

The story is compelling. It's masterfully told by Dessen.

Some of my favorite bits:

When I think of Michael Sherwood, what really comes to mind is produce. (41)

Halley's first conversation with Macon (which happens while they're waiting to speak to the school counselor.) He's in trouble; she's looking to change her schedule.

"Now, you know how to handle yourself in there, right?"
I looked at him. "What?"
"How to handle yourself," He blinked at me. "Oh, please. You need big help. Okay, listen up. Firs, admit nothing. That's the most important rule."
"I'm not in trouble," I told him.
"Second," he said loudly, ignoring me, "try to divert them by mention anything about your therapist. For instance, say, 'My therapist always says I have a problem with authority.' Act real serious about it. Just the word 'therapist' will usually cut you some slack."
I laughed. "Yeah, right."
"It's true. And if that doesn't work, use the Jedi Mind Trick. But only if you really have to."
"The what?"
"The Jedi Mind Trick." He looked at me. "Didn't you ever see Star Wars?"
I thought back, "Sure I did."
"The Jedi Mind Trick is when you tell someone what you want them to think, and then they think it. Like, say I'm Mr. Mathers. And I say, "Macon, you're already pushing the limits and it's only the first day of school. Is this any kind of way to start the year?' And you're me. What do you say?"
I shook my head. "I have no idea."
He rolled his eyes. "You say, 'Mr. Mathers, you're going to let this slide, because it's only the first day, it was an honest mistake, and the fire got put out as quickly as it was started.'"
"The fire?" I said. "What fire?"
"The point is," he said easily, flipping his hand, "that you just say that right back to him, very confidently. And then what does he say?"
"That you're crazy?"
"No. He says, 'Well, Macon, I'm going to let this slide because it's only the first day, it was an honest mistake, and the fire got put out as quickly as it started.'"
I laughed. "He will not."
"He will," he said, nodding his head. "It's the Jedi Mind Trick. Trust me." And when he smiled at me, I almost did. (54)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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Janssen 3:28 PM  

I LOVED this book. I think after "The Truth about Forever" it's my favorite of hers.

Anonymous,  3:42 PM  

I have yet to read a Dessen book, but I will. Promise. This year is a bit insane with all the book challenges. Next year I'll be settling down and reading all the books I've been missing from this year. ;)

Sarah 5:04 PM  

I didn't realize I have already read this one! I agree, Sarah Dessen is totally different. Her books are less fluff and more substance. It is pretty much guilt free chick lit type reading for sure!

Jen 5:10 PM  

I havent read this one, but Dessen is amazing

Just Your Typical Book Blog 6:02 PM  

Great review! I loved this one as well. I've always said it, but since her first book, Sarah Dessen just gets better and better.


chrisa511 6:30 PM  

This sounds really good! I've been wanting to read some Dessen, but I don't know where to start...what would you say is her most guy friendly book?

Becky 6:41 PM  

Chris, I'll think about it and let you know what I decide :)

I agree, Amber. Though I have yet to read one I didn't like :)

Jen, she is, isn't she!

Sarah, I agree. I love having that feel-good feeling when I read a book.

J. Kaye, you should make time to read Dessen :)

The Truth About Forever is one of my favorites.

Obsessed Reader 6:58 PM  

I keep hearing so many great things about this author! I am definitely going to add her to my TBR list...thanks!

Unknown 8:02 PM  

Wonderful review--I just added this to my wish list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it, I'm excited to read this book :-)

chrisa511 11:29 PM  

Sounds good! Looking forward to your rec :)

Debi 7:39 AM  

Alright Becky...what am I going to do with you, huh?!! Romance has just never really been my thing...and yet here you are making this book sound so darn good! I know expanding one's horizons is a good thing, but sheesh, I can't through the books already on my TBR pile.

Unknown 7:55 AM  

I really liked Lock and Key. I should get around to reading the rest of her books (maybe this summer, when I'm in a light-and-fluffy mood). This looks like a good place to start...

Rose Marie 10:17 AM  

Have you seen the movie based on this book? (and another one I think, but I can't remember what the second one is) It's called How to Deal with Mandy Moore as Hallie. I haven't read the book yet, it's in my pile, but I loved the movie. and Macon. :)

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