Number 95: This Lullaby
This was a good book. Let me start with that, because it feels like I don’t very often…how about a little something about the author. Sarah Dessen is a creative writing teacher for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This makes me feel warm inside because so often I think of creative writing teachers as being those that teach because they can’t do. Now, I realize that plenty of college instructors and professors have notable publications and incredible writing abilities, but it is nice to see a teacher doing so well in the publishing world. I’ve noticed my own teachers working themselves nonstop, and they are brilliant in their own right, and it would be nice if they saw this sort of success. Sarah Dessen has several other books, all of which look to be YA romances, and there are also a few that are on NPR’s list. So, you’ll be seeing this author again.
Now onto the story…as I said, I liked it. It was fun and cute and the characters are memorable. I, of course, know nothing about what it would like being a partying, serial-dating teenage girl, but Dessen makes the idea of it relatable, and I did relate to Remy, the main character. Not with every aspect of her character, but her cynical views. I have a completely different view of love than Remy, but Dessen made Remy’s views and qualms toward love believable and I was able to enjoy Remy’s journey and transformation.
There were plenty of surprises within the story, and even a few within the main plot, though I have to say that it is just a straight up romance novel for teens. Dessen also sprinkles in some surprising characters and seems to give every relationship the attention it needs to seem real. The relationship between the band is especially good. They bicker like brothers, and each one of them seemed to have their own unique quirk which never took away from the story. The idea of the Lullaby is clever. “This Lullaby” is a song that was written for Remy by her father the day that she was born. She never met her father and he died of a heart attack when she was young (don’t worry this is found out within the first couple pages). The lullaby, though Remy claims to hate it, actually works to sooth her and eventually works in favor of her accepting love.
The writing is readable. Don’t worry, that’s a compliment. I found myself getting lost pages at a time and wondering how long I’d been reading since I looked up. It was easy to fall into the flow of the story. But, at times, the story did seem to drift and served only to make a situation feel more real, than it did to serve the plot, if that makes sense. For example, characters will continue conversations or say hello and give introductions in believable ways and talk about normal everyday things, which serves in creating round characters and making it realistic, but doesn’t necessarily serve the plot (though I guess one could argue that the whole plot of a romance novel is will they or wont they, so pretty much everything in between is just fluff). This is fine most of the time, but there were a few instances I was tempted to jump to the next page.
Even though it was a good book, I’m not sure it should be on the top 100 list. I wasn’t blown away or anything. The book didn’t make me think about love in a different way, but maybe it would make a teen think about love differently. Being the veteran with love that I am, nothing could possibly surprise me, ahem… The book was good though. Highly readable. Good story telling by the author. Good writing. Good characters. Good. Good. Good. But, should that be grounds for making it on a top 100 EVER list? I mean, that should be criteria for a publishable book, right? I do know that I can’t make the judgment right after reading the novel of whether or not it belongs on the list. I have to wait and see if the novel lingers in my mind. I have to see if images or situations or anything else sticks with me and makes me think. My first reaction is to say no, it doesn’t belong, but it should be a book read by someone that wants to read a love story. It does have a lot to say about love and the author gives several different views of it, but it doesn’t make me question my own view of love… So, I guess the real question here is, should my basis for a top 100 EVER teen books list really be based on whether or not it is actually readable?
Wife: maybe….a firm maybe.