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For me, Sarah Dessen is one of the queens of contemporary YA literature and honestly, YA literature in general. I read my first Sarah Dessen novel back in 2007 and she introduced me to this whole new genre of books that I had never really thought of become. Yes, I had read books targeted for young adults, but mostly by Finnish authors. Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever introduced me to a whole new world of books. As a result of it I found the YA section from Books-a-Million during my exchange year in United States and honestly, I can say that it has had a life changing effect on me. YA literature has become such a huge part of my life (as this blog proves), and I am forever grateful for that.
This week, I will share with you ten titles that I think you might like if you have enjoyed the novels of Sarah Dessen. Some of these are well-known, some not, but what they all share is awesomeness!
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett - like many of Sarah Dessen's books, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is a perfect blend of a love story and a family story. The romance is realistic and heartwarming, the character chemistry is tangible and the writing is amazing! I had a very hard time putting this book down.
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel - The one thing I love the most about Sarah Dessen's novels are the way she writes family dynamics. Thought the romance found from Between Us and the Moon is interesting, I found the family dynamics, especially the relationships between the two sisters, Bean and Scarlett, extremely interesting to read about. Between Us and the Moon is quite a slow-burning read, but it impressed me with its character development, especially in relation to the main character Bean. To make one more Dessen connection, this is also set on a beach, like many of Dessen's novels are.
First & Then by Emma Mills - This wonderful contemporary read described as a mix of Friday Night Lights and Pride and Prejudice also includes a wonderful romance, incredible character development and self-discovery and interesting supporting characters like Foster, the main character's young cousin who suddenly moves in to live with her family and changes her perceptions about her life and her family.
How to Say I Love You Out Loud by K.A. Cozzo - I loved the complicated main character of this novel, Jordyn and the way some of the things she does made me question her actions and her motivations. I loved to read about the things Jordyn goes through and how she learns about her brother and his illness and the ways she can possibly help. There's also romance in here, and the chemistry between Jordyn and her love interest is palpable, but at the end of the day, this one is a story about a girl and her love for her brother.
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb - Like several of the books on the this list, this one also includes a great family component, this time a relationship between a daughter and a mother. I love my mother SO MUCH and I always loved to read about a mother-daughter relationships and how mothers and daughters can love each other despite differences in opinions. There's also an awesome friendship in this novel, another aspect I love about YA contemporary and Sarah Dessen's novels.
The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne - My excitement towards this book, which in its synopsis mentions both Sarah Dessen and Aaron Sorkin (the creator of my favorite drama ever, The West Wing) was insane! It definitely was one of my most expected novels of the year, and though it did not blow me away quite as much as I expected, I did love it! This one has a great main character, problematic family relations, a romance, friendships... It is also extremely well written, and the characterization and character development really took me by surprise. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the political setting and definitely wish that it comes more used in YA (IF THERE ARE ANY YA CONTEMPORARIES WITH POLITICAL SETTING THAT YOU KNOW OF, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!)
Magnolia by Kristi Cook - I am obsessed with the American South and this one was one of those books that fed my obsession. It is also one of those books that I happened to find just at the right time and once I started it, I could not put it down (I almost missed on Christmas dinner because of this book!). There's romance, family drama, witty dialogue and scenes that will definitely make you swoon! It is fast paced, entertaining and just a lot of fun to read.
Saving June by Hannah Harrington - This tear-jerker of a book shares brilliant characterization and character journeys and relationships as well as well-established family drama/family dynamics with the works of Sarah Dessen. For me personally this book was kind of a meditative experience in the sense that though it brought up memories of my father's suicide, it helped me to understand by feelings a little better through being able to relate with someone, even if that someone was fictional. Saving June is a beautiful, well-written, extremely touching book that I wish more people would be aware of.
The Next Door Boys by Jolene Betty Perry - First of all, I want to mention that unlike Dessen's novels, this one has a religious aspect. But I also do want to mention that I did not know of it when I started reading this one. Those who know me, know that I am not religious AT ALL, and usually because of that I am turned off by books with a religious elements, but this one did not do it! I actually gave this 5 stars back in the day because I for me it was a great reading experience with realistic, fragile characters that have to cope with their problems and their pasts in order to go on.
Echoes of Love by Rosie Rushton - It has been AGES since I read this one, but while browsing my bookshelf for titles to be included on this list, I thought I should mention it here. Echoes of Love is a YA contemporary retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion set in the British seaside. In it Anna Eliot is a daughter of a famous TV show host and Felix Wentworth is a young soldier who comes back from Afghanistan as a war hero. Drama, misunderstandings and romance follows as Felix comes back to his hometown after deployment and comes in contact with Anna after she once broke his heart.
What other titles would you recommend for the fans of Sarah Dessen?
Did any of these catch your interest (I really hope so)?