Thursday, June 14, 2007

the sarah dessen oeuvre

"that summer" was sarah dessen's first novel and in my opinion, it shows. it's a story about the "summer that changes your life" and is a rather flimsy tale about a girl, haven, whose sister is getting married, dealing with her father's remarriage and the reappearance of the boy who her sister dated. not a lot goes on and the characters aren't very well drawn or interesting. if i wasn't so doggedly committed to reading everything she wrote, i doubt i would pick it up otherwise and i know i wouldn't read it again.

"keeping the moon" has an awful title but is more fluffily readable than the last. there's familiar ground being retread here: a girl going through awkwardness, comes into her own during a summer of new friendships and a boy. i dig the whole teenage-portentousness-of-summer thing, i think i'm still guilty of it to this day, romanticizing summer. there's something about summer that to me, just makes it seem possible that anything can happen, particularly in the romance and adventure department. there just seems to be more opportunity to DO stuff in general. i enjoyed this one, but not as much as "just listen"

"someone like you" has a "best friends going through a teenage pregnancy" theme, mixed with a dash of "teenage girl getting into a regrettable relationship" and "teenage girl breaking away from the ties that bind her to her parents, only to gradually make her way back through the exorcism of the regrettable relationship" the slight change in subject matter (ie. not so romance driven) made it more enjoyable than "keeping the moon" or "that summer" and i liked the way the characters developed and were written.

finally, there's "this lullaby" which i LOVED. it's about a girl who goes through relationships and chews boys up, a serial monogamist who never really allows herself to get close to any of the boys she ends up with, until she meets this musician, dexter, who blows through her defenses, and despite all her efforts to rationalize how wrong they are for each other, makes her take a chance on love. it SOUNDS incredibly cheesy, right? it's not! (at least, i don't think so). the characters were so sweet and well written, especially dexter whose personality jumps off the page. they felt really real and the romance plays out in this sarcastic, guarded, jokey way that i found really endearing. dessen also frames her lead character's resistance to love within the framework of a deadbeat dad. maybe i liked it because the lead character is like me. it's by far the toughest girl that dessen has ever created. usually her lead characters are about mousy "good" girls who have to try hard to have their voices heard, whereas remy, the lead in "this lullaby", is a confident, brassy, whip-smart chick who just doesn't know how to let her guard down. it was an absolute delight to read, and it became my new favorite...it's definitely one i'll be re-reading again.

so my personal ranking of sarah dessen's young adult work reads thus:

1. this lullaby
2. just listen
3. the truth about forever
4. someone like you
5. keeping the moon
6. that summer

i still have to read "dreamland" and then i'm completely caught up, but right now i'm going through a non-fiction phase.

i LOVE how much pleasure reading i'm getting to do this summer!

update: last night's dinner = SUCCESS! but i implore you not to underestimate the ease with which one can bread and deep fry a poached egg. to quote julia roberts in that timeless french classic, "pretty woman": "slippery little suckers" *horse-faced - but beguiling! - smile* i wasn't careful and broke a couple of yolks. it's hard getting the eggs poached firm enough so that you can handle them, and underdone enough so that the yolks will still be runny when re-cooked during the frying process. the garlic scapes were an unparalleled success and overall the dish was restaurant worthy to the extreme. i added some oven-roasted ontario asparagus to up the veg quotient.

i was feeling guilty because yesterday i basically ate sugar all day. the party was a huge hit! the ladies at work should definitely start a side business doing corporate events because it was the nicest, most diverse and pro spread i've seen at a work gig. they really know how to entertain! plus there was dominion slab cake of the calibre that i'm particularly susceptible to: cheap, fake, airy and loaded with a creamy (whipped cream?) frosting that isn't that gummy, thick, overly saccharine grout-like stuff that is the go-to frosting for most mass-produced cakes. deelish! needless to say, i ate way too much sugar. i nearly scrapped dinner (since the day was already a write-off) for burgers from this new burger place that opened up in leslieville, "the burger shoppe", but stopped myself since i really want to try deep-frying poached eggs. in other news: operation hijack the ice cream truck was a bust. we couldn't find it anywhere! so my craving for soft-serve chocolate dip remains unsatiated.

tonight for dinner we're having simple grilled salmon on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and scallion mayo with a side salad of baby greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and a miso-carrot vinaigrette.

fin.

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