Book 11: This Lullaby

Book Title: This Lullaby
Author: Sarah Dessan
Published: 2002
Pages: 345
Category: fiction: young adult

Another book in my ‘Pippa gets stressed and reads stuff she’s already read’ series! And what do I read when I’m stressed? YA. And this time my reading YA was extra relevant, as the reason I was stressed was that I was planning a camp for teenagers. But that’s mostly besides the point…on to the book!

Sarah Dessan is an author I come back to time and time again, she writes wonderful love stories, and This Lullaby is one of my absolute favourites of hers. This Lullaby follows the story of Remy Star, whose mother is about to marry her fifth husband the summer after Remy graduates from High School.

The way that Sarah Dessan describes “the in-between time,” as Remy dubs it, the time between finishing High School and starting University, is spot on to what I remember, and to some extent, what I’m feeling now after finishing University, but not quite starting what’s next yet.

There was the sound of a horn beeping, loud and then fading out as it passed on the road behind us. That was the nice thing about the Spot: you could hear everything, but no one could see you.
“This is just the in-between time,” I said. “It goes faster than you think.” (pg 31)

The concept of the ‘in-between time’ runs throughout the book, and is a concept a lot of Dessan’s readers will react to. We all know this feeling, of waiting for the next thing to come along, waiting for our lives to start, waiting for something, anything, to happen.

“I can see that everyone else is doing exactly what they wanted with the rest of their lives…”
“Sweetie,” I said, trying to be patient, “we’ve only been out of high school a month. This isn’t even the real world yet. It’s just the in-between time.”
“Well, I hate it here.” (pg 168)

There’s something just incredibly real about all of Sarah Dessan’s books, whether its Remy discovering that love can actually be worth the risk in This Lullaby, or Macy Queen trying to figure out who she is, just herself, not in relation to anyone else, in The Truth About Forever. Or Auden learning about her father’s new family and finding out what its like to realize that neither of her parents are perfect people, in Along For The Ride.

I think that YA fiction, and novels set in and around High School are in a way, timeless. Everyone has these collective experiences; feeling the outsider, not knowing who you are or what you’re supposed to be doing, looking for a way to both please and confuse your parents, find your own path. For me, High School was not some awful experience I couldn’t wait to be done with, so perhaps I find more pleasure in going back to a time when I didn’t have to worry about rent, or graduate school, or finding a full time job and paying bills. Either way I believe the emotions we have as teenagers, as High School students, are not trivial, and that they bear exploring in the form of this type of fiction. YA is not just for young adults, it can be for anyone who wants to read them, and take away the messages and experiences they have to offer.
Sarah Dessan can be found at http://www.sarahdessen.com and also keeps a LiveJournal, where she writes weekly at http://writergrl.livejournal.com/

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2 Responses to Book 11: This Lullaby

  1. rowenamarion says:

    This Lullaby is one of my favorite Dessen books.

    and I agree with you so much about YA it’s kinda ridiculous; The theme of not feeling like you really fit, not knowing who you really are…well those are things we all have felt and will feel at times throughout our lives.

    Dessen in particular does an amazing job of reminding the reader that we are all in this together, so to speak. We all have different stories, but we’re all asking the same questions, trying to come to workable answers. Her writing is the perfect escape when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed or just…bogged down with life.

    I love your blog posts. ❤ they always make me want to READ.

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