Before a few weeks ago, I had never even so much as picked up a Sarah Dessen book, let alone read one. And, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't all that impressed. I would have been very disappointed if I had paid full price for it. But I purchased it along with That Summer and a few other books (some good and some dreadfully bad) at a yard sale for 50 cents each.
As much hype as Sarah Dessen gets, I expected this to be really good. I read That Summer as well, and found them both so hauntingly similar that I just had to skim through them before writing this review to remember what happened in which book. Of course, they have their subtle differences, but it's the same basic story structure.
Plot: Auden can't sleep. Eli can't sleep. They go shopping at a gas station at night. Or ride bikes/learn how to ride a bike. That's about it. The story had enough to go deeper, but the part that had the potential to be gripping and emotional wasn't delved into enough, in my opinion.
There is a subplot of Auden helping her stepmother, Heidi, with her new baby. I found myself pitying Heidi quite often, but it's an over done story line. Dad leaves for younger woman, but he wants nothing to do with their kid.
Characters: Auden is your typical stressed-by-parents-with-impossibly-high-standards girl that I've noticed a lot of in this genre lately. That's not to say that she wasn't likable. I did find myself rooting for her and Eli to get together, though.
Eli has this great back story of why he's the typical brooding-mysterious-hot-coveted guy we all know so much, but, as I mentioned above, it could have been done better.
Maggie, Leah and Esther were good for a few smiles throughout the story, but over all they were just typical teenage girls with nothing to make them stand out. Maggie has this great guy in love with her and everyone knows but her (big surprise there, right?), but she's to busy crying about the guy who hooked up with Auden right after they broke up. Just more typical characters with typical story lines.
I loved her brother, Hollis. He's traveling all over Europe dating tons of girls. I almost laughed when Heidi points out who the girl he ends up with resembles. Almost.
Writing Style: There was nothing that stood out about the way Sarah Dessen wrote to me. It wasn't bad, but I didn't find it mesmerizing either.
Overall: It really wasn't my cup of tea. Normally, I'm a huge fan of chick lit and curling up with a good romance book. There was just nothing special. I didn't find myself wishing I was Auden or wishing the guys at my school were more like Eli. It was just all very typical; when I was finished, I put them right into my own yard sale box.