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Summary: Haven is too tall. At fifteen, she is nearly six feet. That's not the only awkward thing. She's dealing with her parents' divorce. Her father's recent marriage has left her mom despondent and added more drama to her sister's upcoming wedding. Enter Sumner Lee, her sister's charismatic ex-boyfriend who is less love interest and more of a reminder of a time when life was simpler. Is it ever possible to go back? And do we really want to? This coming-of-age story is realistic, giving teens laughs, insight, and life lessons, too. This is a high interest / low readability book.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud
Recommended Age: read together: 12 and Up; read yourself: 11and Up
Young Reader Reaction: That Summer thankfully skews the unrealistic teenager stereotypes we see in most young adult media. Through Haven, we learn vital lessons about the perils of growing up and moving on from the past. Dessen has created a truly relatable character. Haven never seems like an adult's version of a teenager. She is young, immature, and frankly clueless about the ways of the world. Toward the end, parts can get confusing. Don't expect closure or any dramatic finale. There are no big discoveries or insights into the universe. It is raw and speaks truthfully to the highs and lows of life. Haven is simply existing and growing. The book ends positively, leaving the reader with the knowledge that wherever she is destined to be, Haven will eventually get there.
Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Pros: Teens looking for a book that says "this is my life" will dive headfirst into this book. Don't let a female narrator keep you from recommending this to boys. They'll love it!
Cons: Readers looking to be transported away or a "tied up" ending may not enjoy this story. There is some mild language and a few sexual references, but nothing graphic or detailed.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least.
If You Liked This Book, Try: Before I Fall by Lauren Olivier; Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson; The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell; Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins IF YOU LIVE LIKE MESPOTTING FOR NELLIESOMETHING, MAYBE
Educational Themes: From physical changes to emotional growth, there is plenty that teens can relate to in Haven's story. They also create opportunities to talk about a variety of things in your teen's life - or their friends (e.g., divorce and remarriage)
Literary Categories: Fiction - family, coming of age, young adult