This Lullaby- Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby take place in the summer after Remy’s summer graduates from high school.  Remy’s mom has been married five times and Remy’s father abandoned her mother before Remy was born (then dies soon after, leaving behind only a song called “This Lullaby” which is about what a terrible father he would be).  Her family history leaves Remy very skeptical about love.  She doesn’t believe love can last or that falling in love is worth the risk of being heartbroken.  When Dexter literally crashes into her world, Remy is forced to decide whether or not love is worth the risk.

This is the first Sarah Dessen book I’ve read and I guess I understand the appeal.  This was an enjoyable read in which the characters learn things and grow as people, but truth be told I didn’t love this book.  I had difficulties with a couple of the characters and wasn’t really invested in the Remy-Dexter relationship.

Remy was a frustrating character a lot of the time, especially as the book kept going and it seemed she was learning nothing.  Remy thinks she has love all figured out, but clearly she doesn’t.  It was frustrating to watch her give up before even trying to sustain a relationship with Dexter.  It was also frustrating to watch her bounce around in casual relationships, as though this is all she deserved.  On the other hand, though, Remy was funny, a caring and loyal friend, and an astute observer of others, even if she had difficulty analyzing her own feelings.  Also, she was bit of a neat freak.  I have a weakness for neat freak characters (and real-life friends, too, I have an abundance of Virgos in my life).

Dexter, though, was sort of blah and I was totally not expecting that given I’d heard much love for the guy.  I mean, I never really understood the attraction to musicians or gangly awkward guys, so maybe he’s just not my type.  Or maybe it was the fact that he sorta kinda reminded me of my brother-in-law, who is in a band and is skinny and offbeat and hipster and cheats at every game he plays (all these things could be said about Dexter, too).  And I like my brother-in-law just fine, but you know, I don’t really want to picture him as the romantic lead in a book I’m reading.

Remy’s mom confused me, too.  As in, the mom we see at the start of the book is irresponsible and immature, but by the end she seems to have her head squarely on her shoulders and gives Remy some really great advice about taking risks in life/love.  I think we were supposed to see Remy’s mother change as Remy’s impression of her mother changes from my-mom-is-the-worst to my-mom-is-pretty-great-despite-her-shortcomings, but what I got was a really confused image of who her mother actually was.

And then there was this little tiny insignificant plot point that really bothered me.  Remy’s first sexual experience was being date-raped while she was drunk.  However, this is mostly glossed over.  Remy deals with the trauma by having sex with a string of meaningless boys.  I suppose some time has passed between that incident and the story, so it wasn’t really a focal point, but either deal with the issue of rape or don’t put it in there in the first place.  Remy’s family life is more than enough for me to believe that she’d have difficulties with love and sex.

The thing is, I bet I would have loved this story as an older teen as I struggled with some of the same conflicts about love that Remy did.  However, as an adult it fell more into the “it wasn’t bad” category.  I know some of you would love quirky Dexter and tough-as-nails Remy, so if hipster musicians are your key to the swoons, try this one.  Avoid this if you are the person who hates that girlfriend who must be constantly reassured that she will someday meet someone and love is real.

8 thoughts on “This Lullaby- Sarah Dessen

  1. Although i think I’ll pass on this one, it puts me somewhat in mind of If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, which were exxxxxxxcellent. We’ve got the skinny musician hipster-esque boyfriend and a main character who has to deal with how she feels about love in the face the great tragedy of being the lone survivor in a car accident that kills her whole family. In this case, loving someone is scary because it means potentially losing them, and she knows how badly that hurts. Also, its about losing her identity and trying to find it again. the neat touch is that she’s a musician, too, but classical. She plays the cello Such a good set of books.
    I loved the skinny musician type in highschool. Now I’m more of a Thor kind of girl, big and brawny, but I think I’ll have a sweet spot for my old highschool loves. Obviously. My little boy is taking guitar lessons because maybe I secretly harbor ideas about him being that skinny cool musician when he’s in highschool. Also, he likes playing the guitar. (I’m not forcing him or anything, I swear).

    • I’ve seen If I Stay around, I just hadn’t decided whether or not I wanted to read it. I’m still not going to be into the hipster boys, but maybe if they are a little more two-dimensional than Dexter it’ll be ok.

      Playing the guitar is totally cool, hope you son keeps on enjoying it!

  2. I’ve read 2 Sarah Dessen’s. I really enjoyed “The Truth About Forever”, but “Just Listen” felt like it had a lot of untapped potential. I’ll keep sprinkling her books in when I’m in the mood for a light easy read, but I would definitely OD if I tried to read them all at once. FYI – This Lullaby sounds like it has a lot of similarities to Just Listen so if you’re going to try another Dessen I’d try a different one.

    • Yeah, I’m not really sure I’m the right audience for Dessen. I like a lot of similar books, but this just didn’t do it for me. Btw, I just started Lola and the Boy Next Door this morning!! (I apparently went to the library and picked up all of the books you recommended or something, as we’ve been reading all the same things lately.)

  3. oh, I hate this book didn’t work for you! I had read 3 Sarah Dessen books (and thought they were ok) but I LOVED This Lullaby. It was the first book of her’s I had read where the MC wasn’t squeaky clean or a generally nice person. I really liked how Remy was jaded and bitchy (I love the bad girl in a book, especially a bad girl that redeems herself.) And I fall into that category of loving geeky musician types. Though I can totally see your point. If I had a brother in law who fit that description, I might feel differently:) I enjoyed reading your take on the book!

    • I did like Remy for the most part, but it was the fact that Dexter did nothing for me (seriously, the guy can’t even keep his shoes tied) that really sealed the deal here. I mean, I was sort of rooting for Remy to go off to college having learned that love was real, but without Dexter being “the one.” And I don’t know that I’ve ever wanted a romance to end with the couple broken up. Oh well, can’t win them all!

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