Age: Young Adult
Interest: Sarah Dessen/ Summer Read/ Teen Love/ 200 in 2011
When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?
I've begun this post almost three times. It has been seriously hard to think of any thing to say beyond "read it", "Sarah Dessen is my soulmate", "I adore this book" or other more embarrassing fangirly sayings. I have been wracking my brain this past couple of days trying to figure out what makes me love This Lullaby or Sarah Dessen so much. I simply cannot think of just one thing.
The characters in This Lullaby (and in all of Dessen's other books I'm realizing) are human. Some people have probably just replied "duh, this is a normal teen book, not fantasy." To which I will say, there is a difference between human characters and believable human characters. In some non-fantasy teen books I'll watch the protagonist make it through whatever challenges they must overcome and by the end I feel like I've read a nice, maybe great book that entertained me. I'm always aware (in those cases) that it is a made-up story. In Dessen's novels though, I feel like I am watching someone's life play out before my eyes. Her characters aren't perfect and most of the time aren't afraid to admit it. There's boy problems, exes, drinking, lies, sex, questionable parenting, babies, marriages, divorces, pregnancies, everything that makes up a real teen's life.Dessen doesn't try to glorify her characters or make them into an unattainable role models on a pedestal. She focuses on making them totally beautifully human.
I couldn't relate to Remy's former "problem child" status or topsy-turvy family dynamic. The only ways I was able to connect with her was in hanging with friends and skepticism on love. They were shallow ways to relate to Remy's life, but I still loved hearing her story. To me, there's something so endearing about seeing a girl who feels like everything in her life is in her control and watching her having to deal with all of it going awry. Witnessing Remy going from a jaded daughter of a 4x divorcee to a person who very cautiously believes in love is sort of magical. It's a kind of "maybe there is hope for me too" moment.
Dexter... he was just adorable. I think the main reason was I kept imagining him as a character (Nathan) from a tv show I love called Misfits. (It's British and entirely NOT kid friendly.) Dexter was sweet, moving, awkward, zaney and about a million other adjectives. He sort of knew exactly what Remy needed or what she wanted before she realized it. He allowed her time to see he was different than all the others and how right they were together, but never really pressured her into anything. Dexter focused on being Dexter and being with Remy, it was all that mattered to him (besides his band) and it endeared him to me.
The other characters in this book Remy's mom, brother, his girlfriend, her friends, Dexter's band mates just sort of complimented the main story. They helped the plot along, but didn't impose on it. In other words they didn't force themselves into the main parts of the story in order to be considered important. My favorite scene with a "side character" involved Remy talking to her mom about love and life decisions. I do have to put in that I adored Remy's mom, even though she was a bit selfish. She was totally crazy and eccentric but just cool and hilarious at the same time.
I can't talk about This Lullaby without mentioning the lullaby.
This Lullaby is only a few words,
A simple run of chords,
Quiet here in this spare room,
But you can hear it,
Wherever you may go,
Even If I let you down,
This lullaby plays on
It sounds sweet, sad, simple and really makes me want to buy the audio book to see if the narrator sings it. I can understand how it would appear as an excuse to let your family down. However, I can still find the well-meaning in the words, even though he did let his family down. (And that was startlingly close to becoming spoilery so I will stop talking about it now.)
Overall This Lullaby was a touching and tender novel about love, believing it, questioning it and seeing it. I am not sure there is a better book out there which can convince someone to take a chance on love. There's no words I simply adore this book. So go, read it, buy it and watch your heart melt into a sappy puddle of warm, fuzzy goo.
Teaser lines: "Did you really believe, that first day, that we were meant to be together?"
"You're here, aren't you?"
(My heart is so melting right now.)