Feb. 14, 2012, could have arguably been one of the most painfully awkward days of our youth.
Stuck in the in-between years, wearing retainers and skinny jeans. Spending our babysitting cash on the student council flower fundraiser. Or hoping with fingers crossed that someone would buy us one of the pink carnations. Looking back at my middle school years, I think of old lockers that wouldn’t open, Bath and Body Works body spray and reading Sarah Dessen. I, for one, didn’t know anything about love besides catching eyes with my crush in the hallway. And Dessen introduced me to everything.
This Valentine’s Day, for anyone feeling reminiscent of the cringey yet simpler times or trying to remember why love used to be fun in the first place, I encourage you to read (or re-read) one of of these Sarah Dessen classics.
“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”
Just like life, love isn’t perfect. For perfectionist Macy, this is a difficult lesson to learn. After the death of her father, Macy is determined to be in control of everything. That means dating “perfect” studious Jason, and following a schedule including student government and yoga practice. But when Jason leaves unexpectedly, Macy is once again faced with emotional chaos. While helping out with a catering business and playing Truth (truth or dare without the dare) with her new friend Wes, Macy begins to see that sometimes the best things happen spontaneously.
“If you’re not getting hurt, you’re not riding hard enough.”
Just like the spokes of a wheel on a bicycle, Auden’s head is always spinning. As an insomniac, who spends her nights at a 24-hour diner, she has a lot of time to think. And overthink. And think some more. But sometimes in life, you just can’t think. When Auden goes to stay with her dad for the summer, she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, who is determined to help Auden let go and just have fun. Join Auden and Eli, on their quest to have the best summer ever, and see if Auden will finally learn how to ride a bike.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in what people expect of you. Sometimes, you can just lose yourself.”
Falling in love isn’t always like flopping back into pillowy clouds, sometimes it can be more of a trap, like a rabbit hole. This is a story of that other kind of love. The kind that hurts and leaves scars. Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of dating, this is an important reminder of how people aren’t always who we think they are at first. Caitlyn falls in love with every part of Rogerson. His wild hair and spirit. His interesting mind and kind heart. So when she sees a different side of Rogerson, one with fists and a raging temper, she doesn’t know how to feel. “Dreamland” is an absolutely inspiring story, and you will be cheering for our heroin Caitlin as she stands up for herself, and makes the painful discovery that love can change.
“You know, when it works, love is pretty amazing. It’s not overrated. There’s a reason for all those songs.”
For Remy, love is like the empty bottles of meal replacement shakes her fourth step-father leaves around the house. Empty words that her mother fills her romance novels with. And quite frankly, not worth her time. But when she meets Dexter Jones, the lead singer in a band called Truth Squad, she gets a new look at what it could mean to love someone. Remy’s story is all about faith and giving someone new a chance, even though it might be scary at first. Readers of “This Lullaby” will relate to Remy’s honest vulnerability, and the idea that the future isn’t always the same as the past.
“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”
This is the book that will keep you up at night; the book that you will read underneath the covers, with a flashlight when you should be falling asleep. Annabelle will keep you thinking about the way that you always answer the mundane question of “How are you?” with “I’m fine,” even when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The topic of sexual assault is a tragically common problem in society, evident in repetition of phrases such as “Me too” seen on social media platforms. But Annabelle’s story is of one of the silent voices, that we don’t always hear. It can seem easier to hide sometimes, but when Annabelle meets Owen, she learns that when you find someone you can trust, just like listening, being open is an important part of love.
Kate Luongo is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.