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That Summer Paperback – May 11, 2004

170 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As her parents divorce and her sister gets married, teenage Haven finds herself out of place. PW noted in a starred review, "Dessen's combination of unforgettable characters and unexpected events generates hilarity as well as warmth." Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-9?That Summer could refer to the current one through which 15-year-old Haven is suffering, or it could be the one a few years ago when everything seemed perfect. Nevertheless, both summers affect her and she is a different person at their conclusions. Dessen has cast her story with a group of forgettable characters who plod their way through a cliche-ridden coming-of-age novel with a lot of subplots. There is the long-suffering mother and her scatterbrained best friend. Then there is toupee-wearing Dad, who honks from the driveway on visitation nights. Add the boy-crazy best friend and the moody older sister who is planning her wedding and making everyone miserable. The most memorable character is Summer Lee, a remnant of that long ago season when everything was just right, who shows up at the precise moments he is needed and offers support to Haven. The setting is a suburb where all the houses look exactly the same (kind of like the characters). There is nothing seriously wrong with Haven's life, except that she doesn't fit in, physically or emotionally; she is six-feet tall and still growing. She is unwilling or unable to accept change in her life, and pines for the days when her parents seemed happy and she didn't fight with her sister and the sun always shone...Sigh. Still, Haven has a good sense of humor, and her insightful barbs about everything from shopping malls to TV-news readers add some depth to the story.?Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1020 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; 11th printing edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142401722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142401729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I've been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I'd sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, "She has such a wild imagination," which usually meant "I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth." I have a tendency to embellish: I think it's just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it's hard not to do it all the time."The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn't tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die or Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it's the best thing to which any writer can aspire. "As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden---although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive----and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that's a good thing. It's always more fun to make stuff up anyway."

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#84 in Books > Teens
#84 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 4, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Sarah Dessen's first novel, Haven, a tall, 15 year old girl tries to deal with her life changing summer, while reminiscing about a special one that stood out in her memory. The summer where everything was right and perfect and happy. The summer that her older sister Ashley was dating Sumner, and her parents were happy and together. Back in reality though, this summer was crazy and strange- nothing was the same anymore. Her dad runs off with "The Weather Pet" and her sister is getting married to a boring guy named Lewis. Her best friend returns from camp a totally different girl, who smokes and has a long-distance boyfriend. Even Haven herself has changed. She is almost six feet tall, uncomfortable with herself and her looks. The boy who made everything right, Sumner Lee, makes a re-appearance after all those year during this summer, and Haven thinks he is the key to making everything go away and be normal again. By the end of this crazy summer, Haven finds herself and understands so many more things than she did before. Sarah Dessen is an outstanding author, who writes with a laid-back, detailed style that anyone can somehow relate to. her characters are well developed, and unforgetable. This is a book that you don't want to put down, but after you've finished it, you wish you had savored every page, not wanting it to end. It is sweet, truthful, sad, and funny all at the same time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. Campbell on April 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am usually a big fan of Sarah Dessen's books, such as This Lullaby and Someone Like You. I recently finished reading Dessen's latest book, Just Listen, and enjoyed it thoroughly as well. However, That Summer is little more than a look at a girl's day to day life, which is frankly not that interesting. Nothing happens; there is no climax, no rising action, no falling action. I have a mission for those of you reading this and interested in reading That Summer: I will write, on this review, what That Summer is about. DON'T read it before reading That Summer, but after you've read the book, come back and read what I wrote and see if I did not sum up the ENTIRE book in a few sentences. Here goes:

Haven (the main character) looks back on a summer from a few years ago when everything was perfect: her parents were married and her sister Ashley, who is usually mean, is nice now because she's dating a boy named Sumner. After Sumner and Ashley broke up, however, Haven's life starts to suck. She finds out Sumner cheated on Ashley, and that's why they broke up. THE END.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 27, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What teenager hasn't felt ill-at-ease in his or her own skin? Haven is one of many, but in addition to a spurt of growth that brings her to almost 6 feet at the age of 15, she's facing her father's wedding to a mini celebrity from the local TV station and her sister's upcoming nuptials to a really dull fellow.
Mia Barron's reading of this story of teenage angst and recovery is pitch perfect from the family arguments to the mayhem at a mall where Haven works to shared confidences with her sister, Ashley.
When Haven's life is turned upside down by all the changes to her physical appearance and within her family she remembers what she believes to have been a perfect summer - the vacation when her parents were together and Ashley dated Sumner Lee, a really likeable, charismatic boy.
Memories aren't all Haven has because Sumner turns up once more. Listeners will find out what this means, and may very well be surprised.
- Gail Cooke
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Haven feels a little bit like her life is escaping from her grasp. She remembers being small and safe, having her parents together and loving each other, having her sister sometimes be nice to her. Now, though, Haven is quickly approaching six feet tall and she feels gigantic. Her parents are divorced and her father, a television sportscaster, has just remarried, to his television station's weather forecaster. Haven's mother has become the type of woman who goes out to a bar once a week with a new female friend. And the worst thing of all is that Haven's sister is getting married and is unbearably obnoxious and selfish.

When Haven thinks back to when things felt better, her mind gets stuck on one summer, when her sister was in high school and dating a boy named Sumner. Sumner was the type of guy who could bring people together and make everything seem fun. He was nice to Haven and made her sister be nice to her, too. When Sumner came into their house, everyone gathered to greet him. They were all happy.

So when Haven meets up with Sumner again, back in town to work odd jobs before going back to college, all of her memories are stirred up. Could he be the key to her life getting back to normal again? If she tells her sister he is back in town, will she get back in touch with him?

I liked the character of Sumner and the way he always seemed to pop up when Haven needed him. I also liked seeing the dynamics of Haven's family. It was interesting to see the ways she viewed her mother and her father now that they weren't together anymore, and the way she viewed her sister and her wedding plans.

The ending of this book was sort of a letdown, though. Sumner ended up being just a bit boring at the end. Also, Haven's sister was simply over the top. I don't think anyone would have allowed her to behave like she did for so long.
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