21 Jan 2016

DISCUSSION: My Queen of Contemporary: SARAH DESSEN

I read a lot of books. While my top read genre always seems to be Fantasy, I have a soft spot for Contemporary novels. They were my first love and every time I read one I remember why that genre is so great. Don't get me wrong, I love getting away from reality and sometimes you need a bit more escape than what a realistic fiction or a regular old contemporary novel can give you. But sometimes you need to feel like you aren't alone in situations you come across and there is no better place to find this type of companionship than in Contemporary novels.

The New Kids on the Block

There is a lot of hype and talk about some contemporary authors being the Be All End All of the genre. Their novels are the ones everyone recommends and everyone seems to have read. But I feel like no matter who else comes on the block, Sarah Dessen will always be my favourite author. Full stop. Not favourite contemporary author, just favourite author in general.

I've seen a lot of taglines for soon to be released books say "For fans of Sarah Dessen..." but when I was a teenager (long ago in a galaxy far away...), you couldn't walk into a bookstore without one of the staff recommending you read a Sarah Dessen novel. Typically, they would tell you to read THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER and so that is what my mom bought me when I told her for my 13th birthday that I wanted to read more books. 


The Book That Changed My Life

I opened the book on my birthday and barely said "Thank you" before immediately diving in -- even with my friends and family there. I was so engrossed in the book that I finished it that day. Because I loved this book so much, I wanted to read more by this author. So I had my mom drive me to the bookstore the next day and I found that there were five other books by her published. Score! I bought KEEPING THE MOON and DREAMLAND and went home to read.

I think it's pretty safe to say that not only did I finish those books within a week, but I got the other two novels that Sarah Dessen had published at the time (in 2005, so not quite as many as there are now but enough) and read them immediately. Then I waited. 


I Became A Teensy Bit Obsessed

I followed Sarah Dessen's career and books and got each one on the day they came out and promptly read them. I was enthralled. I would recommend them to anyone and everyone who asked me for a book recommendation. I have read and reread these novels so many times that I had to buy a whole new set of books. When they were repackaged with the new fonts, I bought another new set because I wanted them all to match. They have a special shelf on my bookshelf because they are SO important to me. (I have them ordered from my most to least favourite novel. You can guess which is where in the comments below!)


How One Person's Words Can Shape Another

But I keep coming back to the "Why". Why are these books -- and this author -- so important to me and my growth as an individual (because I can safely say that Sarah Dessen novels have shaped my life) and it keeps coming back to the same thing: She knows how to make you feel as though someone else is there for you, experiencing the same thing, and they are making it through okay. It takes a really talented person to not only convey a message about the trials of being a teenager, but also give the reader hope that if they are going through the same thing that they will be okay as long as they keep moving forward.

I've had some Pretty Traumatic Things happen to me over the course of my 23 years and when I am having one of the harder days, I reread a Sarah Dessen novel that matches my situation and mood. It always calms me down because I KNOW there is someone else out there who is dealing with this. I feel as though I am not alone. That's what these novels have given to me.


Real Life: Sarah Dessen Version

I obviously have my preferences for the novels I like the most and I read those more often, but I find myself reading the ones that have similar stories to ones I would tell if I were to write the story of my life. And I think that is something that a lot of authors don't seem to do as much anymore. Sarah Dessen writes novels that make you really think about things that are happening in your life. And that's not for everyone. I get that people don't want to be read about the shitty things that are happening to them or in their lives, but sometimes it is nice to know that you aren't alone.

TL;DR version: I love Sarah Dessen. I'm so glad I got to meet her last year and I can't wait to see what else she brings out because I will read whatever it is. 

Her Books, In Case I Have Inspired You To Read Them



  1. I have to admit that I have only read two Sarah Dessen books in my life. I loved both Along for the Ride and Saint Anything but I don't read a lot of contemporary. I'm glad you wrote this post though. I'm going to have to read The Truth About Forever now.

    1. TTAF is honestly one of the best contemporary books I have ever read. And that is saying a lot because I read a lot of good contemporary books. Hope you like it!

  2. I must admit this: I never read a Dessen book before. The opportunity never arose, and I only just got into contemporary and my TBR is through the roof. I know my co-blogger read Saint Anything and really enjoyed it.

    Great post!

    Amber ❤ The Book Bratz

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    The discussion on Sarah Dessen's impact on contemporary literature is a powerful one, highlighting her contributions to young adult fiction. The discussion highlights Dessen's storytelling style, character development, and thematic exploration, which resonate with readers of all ages. Personal anecdotes and reflections on Dessen's novels' personal impact add authenticity and depth to the discussion. The discussion also explores recurring themes and motifs in Dessen's works, such as family dynamics, coming-of-age experiences, and self-discovery. The evolution of Dessen's writing style and themes over her career highlights her versatility and staying power as an author. The discussion encourages participants to share their favorite Dessen novels, characters, and moments, sparking diverse perspectives and interpretations of her work. The discussion also explores the cultural and societal significance of Dessen's narratives, highlighting the challenges faced by young adults. The discussion also includes recommendations for readers new to Dessen's work or seeking similar authors or novels with similar themes and writing styles. The discussion also acknowledges Dessen's influence beyond literature, such as in film adaptations or media adaptations. Overall, the discussion serves as a tribute to Dessen's legacy as the Queen of Contemporary.


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