Welcome back for another Friday book review! Today I’ll be venturing outside of my usual realm of Christian YA fiction and will be reviewing an early novel by one of the mainstream YA greats, Sarah Dessen.
Since it’s been at least a year since I’ve read any Dessen books, I decided to go back and read a few this year. I have the How to Deal edition paperback that includes both Someone Like You and That Summer, so That Summer will be my next Dessen review. Stay tuned!
But for now, here are my thoughts on Someone Like You
Halley and Scarlett’s Friendship
While most Dessen novels focus on a romantic plot, her second novel centers around sixteen-year-olds Halley and Scarlet, who soon discover after their junior year of high school has begun, that Scarlett is pregnant. The father is Michael Sherwood, who recently died in a motorcycle accident. Instead of cowering for fear of being judged by her friend’s actions, Halley does her best to support Scarlett 100% as they figure out how to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
Scarlett is also an amazing friend to Halley, continually coaxing her out of making the same bad decisions that she has made in the past.
When Scarlett’s mom, Marion, discovers that Scarlett is expecting, she immediately pushes her to have an abortion. At first, Scarlett agrees, but later changes her mind and is determined to raise the baby no matter what anyone thinks. I especially love this aspect of the book, as it advocates the sanctity of life over choosing “the easy way out” as Marion seemed to think.
One of my favorite quotes from the novel described Scarlett’s decision best when Halley thinks:
…and I wondered why the right thing always seemed to be met with so much resistance, when you’d think it would be the easier path. You had to fight to be virtuous, or so I was noticing.
Message About Mother/Daughter Relationships
Along with focusing on friendship, this book also tackles mother/daughter relationships. On one hand, we have Scarlett and her mom, Marion. From a young age, Scarlett has had to look after her absent-minded/borderline neglectful mom. On the other hand, we have Halley and her seemingly over-protective mother who likes to keep tabs on where Halley is and what’s she’s doing. Through both of these relationships, Dessen illustrates how vital a mother’s part in her daughter’s life is, and how the daughters’ lives are shaped by the way they are raised.
Message About Waiting in Relationships
After Scarlett discovers she is pregnant, she is adamant with Halley about waiting to get physical in a dating relationship until she’s ready. I admire that while the book doesn’t advocate for waiting until marriage (like I believe), that the author promotes this message rather than boasting the modern worldly view of teens freely having physical relationships anywhere with anyone, whether they’re dating or not.
The only aspect I did not really enjoy was that the subplots involving Macon and Halley’s grandmother didn’t feel as fleshed out to me as the other storylines. Macon’s subplot did drive home an important message, but it read like a typical good girl meets bad boy trope. The grandma plot felt a bit forced, like it was used solely as a way to get Halley’s mom out of the house for Halley to sneak around. Still, it did not take too much away from my enjoyment of the novel.
Overall, I recommend this book to readers who are 16+ who can maturely handle the content and language that are featured.
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