Auden is the intelligent, driven daughter of two aggressively intellectual – and competitive – parents. As she grew up, she witnessed their marriage disintegrating and tried her utmost to compensate by being the perfect daughter. As a result she’s missed out on many typical teenage experiences; she doesn’t go to school dances or parties, and she doesn’t really have any friends. The summer after her senior year, however, she decides she needs a change. She goes to visit her dad, his second wife, and their new baby in a small town near the beach. There she gradually gets to know some of the local teenagers. While she distrusts them at first, she eventually learns to open herself up to friendship – and even, with a mysterious boy named Eli, the possibility of something more.
I really enjoy Sarah Dessen’s young adult books – the woman can certainly write a dysfunctional family! My heart went out to Auden and the tough situation she has to deal with: while her parents both love her, they’re also selfish and oblivious to how much pressure they’ve placed on their daughter. Auden is so tightly wound that she can’t sleep through the night, and she has no idea how to interact socially with people her own age. So I was really glad to see her grow and develop throughout the book. I also really liked that, while there is a love story in the book, its main focus is on friendship rather than romance. So many YA books these days focus on romantic turmoil and love triangles, but here most of Auden’s important relationships are with women. I liked this book a lot, even though I’m not its target demographic, but I definitely think it would be a great read for teen girls as well!