This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen YA
I have a huge backlog of books to review, but I decided that I had to write about one of my favourite young adult writers. Sarah Dessen knows how to write girls on the verge, afraid of who they could be but not willing to stand still anymore. Yes, the books are about love, but the love is usually a distraction from some of their other issues. Take Remy, for example.
Remy has a bit of a bad reputation that she’s still trying to get away from. She’s always trying to quit the combination of boys, beer and smokes. Part of her problem is that she doesn’t believe in love. Her mom is a romance writer who is just about to get married for the fourth time. Her father was a musician who died without ever meeting her; he left her mom before she was born. All she really has of him is his only hit, a song that he wrote for her called “This Lullaby”, where he sings “I will let you down.” Her mother’s relationships and her father’s song have led Remy to believe that every relationship is doomed from the beginning so you should leave before you are left. Then Dexter decides that she’s the one for him.
I love Remy because she’s so mean, but she’s not sure that she wants to be. She regrets the things she says, but she can’t see a way to not say them. She’s self-aware in a really refreshing way. She knows that her name is ridiculous, and she makes fun of it herself. She knows that her mom’s marriage is doomed to fail, but she still plans a spectacular wedding for her, because she can’t stand things being done wrong. She knows that two of her friends hate each other, but she’ll cares about them both, so they better deal with it. Remy is a perfectionist as a way to cover for her “bad old days”, but the novel makes it clear, even if Remy doesn’t admit it, that at least one time Remy was raped. This event never seems to make it into Remy’s calculations about how things are, but it’s a silent factor in her dark world view.
Now Dexter is not my favourite Dessen character. I never really got to understand Dexter since we only see him from Remy’s view, and I’m not exactly sure how he wins her heart. He’s a struggling musican who travels each summer with his band to a new town with a good music scene as they try to make it with their “Potato Opus.” He and his bandmates are an adorable mess, and it’s fun to watch Remy struggle with the desire to clean them up. However, he’s going to be gone by the end of the summer, and Remy’s going to Stanford, so Remy thinks that nothing major will happen. Obviously, she’s wrong.
This Lullaby was my first Dessen novel, but not my favourite because she doesn’t talk so much about female friendships, and Dexter doesn’t feel as real as he could. (In case you care, Someone Like You and Just Listen are my favourites) However, Remy’s voice is so strong and so real that after I first read it, I went out and bought a copy for a friend.