In preparation for What Happened to Goodbye, which recently came out, I decided to try to catch up on my Sarah Dessen reading. And this book was classic Dessen, which is the biggest compliment I can give a contemporary YA.

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

I have to admit to not liking Auden at the beginning. She was like a lemming when it came to her mom and so socially awkward that her decisions ranked up there in the “What were you thinking?” department. But she grew on me. In fact, all of the characters grew on me, even Auden’s deadbeat dad. Well… maybe not so much Auden’s dad. But everyone else, yes.

As the summary tells you, Auden’s an insomniac. Since I’ve gone through a bout of insomnia before, I could sort of relate to Auden in this. Finding things to do at 3AM beyond studying, reading or watching mindless bad television is hard to do, especially when you’re stuck in a small town.

From the beginning, Eli was a mystery. I had no idea what to expect from him because Auden didn’t know what to think of him. But toward the end, *sigh*. Eli is ranks up there with perfect boys Sarah Dessen has created.

As with every Dessen book, her characters are what makes the story. They’re both realistic and witty. I want to live in this world and be their friend.

There are several hints at places and things from other Dessen books. And every time I see one, I can’t help writing it down, along with which book it first showed up in. I love being an insider now and knowing almost all (as I’m sure I’m missing some) of the references.

So, overall, another great Dessen book. This makes me excited to read What Happened to Goodbye, although if I keep reading about these perfect guys, I might start being jealous of these fictional girls.

Oh, alright. I’m already jealous of the fictional girls. *sigh*

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