Dessen, Sarah. That Summer. Orchard, 1996. ISBN 0-531-09538-X. $16.95. 198 pp. B 8-12 FI Reviewed by April Baadsgaard Fifteen-year-old Haven is having a summer filled with weddings. Her news-anchorman father is marrying the weather girl he works with, and her sister Ashley is marrying Lewis, a “dull-as- dishwater boy,” whom Haven would never pair with her sister. The story revolves around Haven's personal changes as the world around her seems to be falling apart. In the midst of all the confusion, Haven can't help but look back to a more blissful summer. Her mother and father were still married, and Ashley was dating Sumner. Haven liked Sumner more than all of Ashley's other boyfriends. To Haven, Sumner helped hold her family together. Everyone seemed happy when Sumner was around. After Ashley broke up with Sumner, it wasn't long before things started to change. Haven can't help but think that maybe Sumner could help make things the way they were. Though Haven is in the middle of chaos, she learns that she can't always make things better. She learns to see others differently, and she gains a greater appreciation for those around her (Especially Ashley, who has been stressed out and irritable ever since her engagement was announced. Haven also learns that Sumner isn't the perfect boy she once thought he was. Dessen develops the characters in such a way that the reader can identify with their feelings. This story portrays divorce in a very real setting. It also portrays the thoughts and actions of a normal teenager who is too tall and can never think of the right things to say. That Summer is suitable for older readers. There are some adult themes and strong language that come out in the story. A teacher may want to read it before recommending it to a student.
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