Author: Sarah Dessen
Original language: English
“I had no illusions about love… It came, it went, it left casualties or it didn’t. People weren’t meant to be together forever, regardless of what the songs say.” Remy doesn’t believe in love. And why should she? Her romance novelist mother is working on her fifth marriage, and her father, a ’70s hippie singer, left her with only a one-hit wonder song to remember him by. Every time Remy hears “This Lullaby,” it feels like “a bruise that never quite healed right.” “Wherever you may go / I will let you down / But this lullaby plays on…” Never without a boyfriend, Remy is a compulsive dater, but before a guy can go all “Ken” on her (as in “ultra boyfriend behavior”) she cuts him off, without ever getting close or getting hurt. That’s why she’s stunned when klutzy, quirky, alterna-band boy Dexter inserts himself into her life and refuses to leave. Remy’s been accepted to Stanford, and she plans on having her usual summer fling before tying up the loose ends of her pre-college life and heading for the coast. Except Dexter’s not following Remy’s tried-and-true rules of break-up protocol. And for the first time, Remy’s questioning whether or not she wants him to.
Author Sarah Dessen’s ability to write novels that are both crowd pleasers and literary masterpieces of YA fiction is showcased beautifully in This Lullaby. Subtle yet completely absorbing, Lullaby is peopled with breathtakingly believable, three-dimensional characters, the very best of which is the bitter, broken Remy herself. An original love story about learning to love yourself first.
This modern-day romance narrated by a cynical heroine offers a balance of wickedly funny moments and universal teen traumas. High school graduate Remy has some biting commentary about love, including her romance-writer mother’s betrothal to a car dealer (“He put one hand on my shoulder, Dad-style, and I tried not to remember all the stepfathers before him that had done the same thing… They all thought they were permanent, too”) and her brother’s infatuation with self-improvement guru Jennifer Anne. But when rocker Dexter “crashes” into her life, her resolve to remain unattached starts to crack. Readers will need to hold on to their hats as they accompany Remy on her whirlwind ride, avoiding, circling and finally surrendering to Cupid’s arrows. Almost as memorable as her summer romance with a heartwarmingly flawed suitor is the cast of idiosyncratic characters who watch from the sidelines. There’s the trio of Remy’s faithful girlfriends, all addicted to “Xtra Large Zip” Diet Cokes practical-minded Jess, weepy Lissa, and Chloe, who shares Remy’s dark sense of humor as well as Dexter’s entourage of fellow band members, as incompetent at managing money as they are at keeping their rental house clean. Those expecting a Cinderella finale for Remy will find a twist consistent with the plot’s development. Contrary to any such implication in the title, this one will keep teens up reading. Ages 12-up.