Sarah Dessen – Someone Like You

I am currently taking a course on library services for young adults in which I have been asked to review ten books, so I have decided to post my reviews here too. This is my ninth review. (You can read other book reviews that I have done here if you really want to.) This book will probably appeal to teens around 13 and up. Topics covered include boyfriends, first love, relationships with parents, death of a friend, and teen pregnancy. Themes include growing up, changing roles between parents and children as the children grow up, and navigating the world as a teen. The genre is contemporary fiction.

This book was recommended to me by Samantha, who challenged my review of Marthe Jocelyn’s “Would You?” and led me into a thoughtful discussion of other YA books. Thank you, Samantha!

Halley is spending a few weeks at summer camp (her mother’s idea) when she receives a phone call from her best friend Scarlett asking her to come home. Scarlett’s boyfriend has just died in an accident and Scarlett, usually the strong, sensible one, needs Halley’s support. This event sets the tone for Halley and Scarlett’s junior year (Grade 11), in which both of them do a great deal of growing up, whether they want to or not. Halley navigates her first real relationswhip while Scarlett faces a difficult decision. The stakes are high for the girls as they navigate ever-changing relationships with their friends and parents, and deal with the consequences of their actions.

This is a great teen read, especially for girls. Halley is a likeable character and her voice stays fresh throughout the story. The book deals with important issues like teen sex, pregnancy, and relationships with parents, but it does so in a way that won’t make teens feel like they are reading a reference book on moral education. Halley’s relationship with Macon follows an arc that most will be able to predict, but Dessen does an admirable job of not letting the story fall into cliche. Young adult readers will be able to identify with Halley and the issues she faces throughout the story.

If I were to use the VOYA scale, I would give it a 5P (high appeal — especially for girls) and 4Q (high quality). It is written in a way that young adults will find engaging and it deals with the kinds of issues that teen readers would face in their own lives. Recommended for any teen collection.