This review also appears on the NerdHerdReads
A few summers ago, I found Lock and Key at the library. It was my first Sarah Dessen book, and I enjoyed it. We visited my cousins that summer, and my cousin had Along for the Ride and This Lullaby. I read Along for the Ride, and loved it. I read the blurb of This Lullaby and even the first page or so, I think, but for whatever reason, it didn't really capture my attention. And that was that for Sarah Dessen. Until late into the school year or maybe even that next summer. I rediscovered her books, and read all of them. This Lullaby I read last, since in my mind I had already given it a chance. And I loved it. I couldn't figure out why I waited so long to read it, or why I didn't read it the first time around. It became my favorite, although currently it may have to contend with some others for the complete top spot, it is still up there. And that's the story of me and This Lullaby.
Remy doesn't believe in love. Seeing her mother going through one marriage after another has made her cynical and jaded, to the point where she has developed the perfect formula for a relationship, never allowing them to stray from her boundaries. Now, the summer after graduation, Remy is preparing for her mother's fifth marriage and counting down the days until she leaves for Stanford. Then, she meets Dexter.
One thing I like about all Sarah Dessen books is how they're…normal. As in, these characters deal with your everyday normal teenage issues. They're relatable. Of course, some more than others. Such as, I couldn't really relate to Remy and her friends because I was never the party type. But I can relate to school stress, transitioning from high school to college, etc. Even if you can't relate completely to a character, there always seems to be some part that you can. I mean, I love my fantasy fiction just like the rest of you, but don't tell me there aren't parts where you're like "really? REALLY? This totally cannot happen". But the issues Dessen writes about are relatable. You know they happen, because they happened to you. And, even for a moment, you realize, someone else actually does know what you're going through. Okay, maybe not on a major scale, but they do make you feel better. Because Dessen's main characters have some issues.
I liked Remy's character, even with all her flaws. She didn't take anything from anyone. And while I do admit that sometimes her cynicism and crazy strictness was annoying sometimes, you knew where she came from. Her friends, on the other hand, were never really explained. I understand that as minor characters, there isn't enough room to fully explain everything about everyone, but it would have been nice to know where they came from. Jess was explained, and I suppose Lissa didn't really need an explanation. So I guess it's just Chloe I wanted explained. She was just as cynical and jaded as Remy, but while we knew why Remy was the way she was, we never knew about Chloe. Nor was it really explained why she and Jess were always at each others' throats. But that wasn't a big deal. Just something I wonder about.
And can we talk about Dexter? Like, sa-woon (All my fellow Dessen fans understand that The Truth About Forever reference). Now, I don't think he's necessarily boyfriend-material for me, but he definitely was lovable. And I love how he didn't let Remy's hard exterior faze him, whittling her down until he saw the girl underneath. I think every girl needs a guy willing to go to such lengths for her. In fact, I think all Dessen boys have given me high standard for my future boyfriend.
Another thing I like about Sarah Dessen's novels is family. Whether it be just a mom, divorced parents, or both parents with siblings, family is always a focus. Every teenager goes through periods where they may not get along with their parents, and every family goes through rough patches. She showcases both of these things, but also show how important family is, how important it is to make amends and keep them close, no matter what they've down or what you've gone through. I think this is an important message for teens to know.
This book is just a fun read. Although it deals with serious issues that we all face, it does it in a fun and cute way. There were your laughing moments, you're serious moments, and of course, your romance. Must I say it again? I love this book ;)
Slight disclaimer: Pretty much anyone I know who reads this as their first Sarah Dessen novel like it okay, but not enough to maybe be so excited to read another Sarah Dessen novel. I have to agree, that if you have never read a Sarah Dessen novel before, this may not be a good first choice. Along for the Ride is my second favorite, and a good one to start with. The Truth About Forever is a close third, and according to a lot of people, a good one to read if it's your first Sarah Dessen novel.