Published: April 6th 2006
Details: Paperback, 374 pages
My Rating: 4/5
Beautiful and heart-felt story about Macy who after her father’s death shuts down emotionally. Problem is, everyone else thinks she is fine. This goes on until she crosses paths with the chaotic but warm Wish catering crew and learns to live again. I laughed, I cried, my heart felt with Wes and Macy. In short, a wonderfully told story. And yes, I am now officially a Sarah Dessen fan!
A few chapters in:
I’ve been reading quite a few young-adult novels these last couple of months, and consequently I’ve also come across Sarah Dessen. It’s impossible not to, as she is somewhat of a legend in the young-adult literary market. She has published a number of feel good novels, usually coming of age stories about teen-age girls with various issues. In doing so, she’s created a little following of admirers, raving about her books just about everywhere in the blogosphere. So after reading the 111th five-star review of a Sarah Dessen book, I made my decision. This is it. I’m going to read at least one Sarah Dessen book, just to see what all the fuss is about.
Once that decision was made I only had to pick one of her books. Which didn’t turn out to be so easy. Every Sarah Dessen-fan has a favourite novel – and those favourite titles vary about as much as the collection itself. After reading a couple of reviews and checking the goodreads overall reviewer-grade I finally settled for this one (currently grade 4.29 which is promising).
I am now 100 pages in and I am liking it so far. The writing style reminds me slightly of Simone Elkeles in how easy it flows, detailed but not too detailed, and with a great pace. The characters are likeable and easy to relate too. I got caught in the story almost immediately and am already finding it hard to put it away.
The main character is Macy Queen, also known as the girl who saw her dad die of an heart-attack. Even though one and a half-year has passed, she has not recovered. The problem is, everyone else thinks she has. Instead of fully grieving she put the cap on, and went on about life as if she was handling it fine, not wanting to trouble anyone. Appearance got important, as that was the only thing she could really control in order to convince everyone she was fine. She met her boyfriend Jason, who was as concerned with perfectionism and appearance as her. And all was well, on the surface at least.
Until summer comes and Jason heads off for a summer camp, leaving Macy alone to take care of his dead-boring library job. One day Macy crosses paths with the Wish catering crew at one of her mother’s open house events. They are a mix of craziness, chaos and warmth – all of which Macy has been avoiding ever since her father’s death. But she is tired of living a life devoid of emotions, and decides to take the leap and get to know these people better.
That’s as far as I’ve got but I’m liking it..a lot!
After finishing the book:
Ok, so I’m officially a Sarah Dessen fan. I loved it.
The funny thing is, not much happens in terms of plot. What I described earlier was basically it. Macy shuts down after her father’s death, then meets this new group of people, among them the artistic good-looking Wes, and starts living again.
Yet, it was such a great read. The characters are all so alive and well-rounded I found myself caring for them pretty much straight away.
What I also loved was the relationship between Wes and Macy. In so many YA books I’ve read lately, the romance happens out of thin air, basically one look is exchanged and then boom they are in love. In this book however it’s well founded and it feels real. They get to know each other first, they open up, become friends and first after a while does it become romantic. That’s the way it should be.
It also deals with grief – how we all grieve differently and how it’s important to accept that. And it deals with fears of letting people in - of getting hurt, but how rewarding it can be if you dare to be yourself and let people in. Macy shuts off because she is afraid that other people can’t handle it if she shows them her true self. It turns out others can handle it just fine.
The Bottom Line:
Essentially, this book touches on a lot of truths in life that we are all aware of but that sometimes seems so hard to put in practice. Things such as really talk to people you care about – even if it seems hard.
In short, it’s such a lovely book - sad, funny and hopeful. It made me want to go hugging everyone I care about and tell them how I really feel. Life is too short not to do otherwise.
Also, it made me want to go straight out and get my hands on another Sarah Dessen book, because wow she really is something!