Thursday, July 14, 2011

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Aside from my daughters, I'm not sure how many teenage girls out there are reading this review.  For you (espeically if you are in your early teens) I would say, that this is a fantastic book.  You should definitely read it.  It takes on subject matter that is highly relevant to the life of a teenage girl and it has a great message.  THIS is "after school special" material at its finest.

If your older though, you may not enjoy this one nearly as much.  The problem for me was that it was VERY cliche.  The plot is not merely predictable but down right obvious. With just a few key topic words I could give you, you could write this book yourself.  Maybe it's just that I have raised / am raising five teenage daughters, but this one was just a little to run of the mill to really captivate me.  At the risk of giving the story away, here is a brief synopsis:

It's about a teenage girl (Halley) dealing with her first foret into "love" while simultaneously dealing with the unexpected pregnancy of her best friend (Scarlett).  It's about the pressures Halley faces and the choices she makes along the way.

I recognize that I'm in the minority here (again), because this book has reviewed incredibly well (four and a half stars at Amazon), but this is NOT the book I would recommend to someone who is a first time Sarah Dessen reader.  This is only the second book I've read by Sarah, but had I read it first, it is unlikely I would have read another.

It's not that this is a bad book. It isn't. In fact, the story plays out (for the most part) exactly how I would want it to (and hope it did) for (at least some of) my own daughters (please, spare me the particulars ladies, and let me live in my own fantasy world).  It's well written and straight forward.  Sarah does an excellent job putting you in Halley's head space, so much so, that I shared Halley's frustration with her mother.  This, despite the fact that I completely agreed with her mother's decisions in the book.

No, the problem for me was that I had the feeling (for the entire book) I had read this already, or seen it on TV or at the movies (I have NOT seen Mandy Moore's How to Deal and don't even remember this movie coming out in 2003), or someone told me a similar story regarding a girl they knew, or I had experienced it (albeit from the parental side) with one of my daughters, or seen it first hand when I was in school (anyone who has attended highschool has met a Macom), etc. etc. ad infinitum. In short, it felt tired and done before.

I debated whether to include the above trailer, and obiously decided to go ahead and do it. It's important to note that the movie version of this book incorporates not only Someone Like You, but also another Sarah Dessen book entitled That Summer (which I have not read yet).  Having not seen the movie I can't vouch for how true it is to either book, but there are obvious changes since the movie attempted to accomodate two separate storylines.  It is my understanding that That Summer involves a teen dealing with the divorce of her parents and the upcoming marriage of her sister.

Ultimately, Someone Like You has not changed my opinion of Sara and I fully intend to read more of her work.  This one just wasn't for me.  Of course, that does not mean that it isn't for you.  It serves as a great object lesson for young teenage girls (maybe even pre-teens depending upon their level of maturity) and could help some of the mothers and fathers out there recognize some of the pitfalls in communication that come with raising a daughter.