Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rereading Sarah Dessen: This Lullaby


I'm taking part in the I Eat Words Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge this year and it's already month two! Check out this post that explains the details about the awesomeness that is this challenge. This month we read This Lullaby. This has long been my favourite Dessen novel and I must say that I was terrified that I wouldn't love it as much as I used to. Read on for the thoughts of myself and my best friend, Sandy.

Here's the synopsis:
When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?
About the Story
Main  Character: Remy Starr
Age: 18
School Year or Summer?: Summer
Boy: Dexter
First description of boy: Not a good first impression as Dexter falls into a chair and knocks Remy into a wall. She’s less than impressed and ends up calling him an asshole. “It was a guy with black curly hair, around my age, wearing a bright orange T-shirt. And for some reason he was smiling.”
Crushable?: Yes. He’s funny and sweet (without being annoying), and a musician to boot.
Big Secret?: No. Remy has enough drama without having to hide something. Though someone else is hiding something (part of a minor storyline).
Heavy Storyline?: Sort of. Remy doesn’t believe in love because she’s watched her mother remarry over and over again. This has messed her up more than she, or anyone else, realized.
Parents Together?: No.
Siblings: One brother, older.
Takes Place In: Lakeview
Cameos: Yes, a newly realized one for me. Scarlett from Someone Like You is the manager of the coffee place where one of Dexter’s band mate’s works.

About the Book
Released: May 2002
Epigraph?: Yes, two. "In the depth of winter, / I have finally learned that / within me there lay / an invincible summer." – Camus. “She’ll be back soon. / She’s just writing.” – Caroline
Format (of the copy I read): Paperback (which is starting to show its wear!)
Own?: Yes.
Signed?: Yes.
Read or Reread: Reread
Age when first read: Likely 15 but possibly 16
New cover vs older cover: I really love the new cover!

My Thoughts
Remy is a great character and I think she's the reason why this This Lullaby will stay near the top of my favourite books list. She had to take on some more responsibilities than she should have when she was younger. Nothing too drastic, but her mom always seemed to need an extra push or helping hand - like with planning yet another wedding. Remy is incredibly organized. In fact, calling her anal would not be out of line. She's an 18 year old girl who is desperate to move on to the next stage in her life - college - and trying her hardest to keep love out of her life. She's strong, smart, and terrified of love. Dexter (literally) crashes into her just when she needs it and he does his best to convince her that he (and love) is worth a shot.
This is one of Dessen's novels that has a lot to do with the romance but it's not really the love story that is the point. Remy needs to work on herself and her belief that love is a sham and anyone who falls for it gets their heart broken. What I like about her novels is that the romance is there and lovely but not in an "in your face" kind of way.
So, the big question is...is this still my favourite Dessen? Honestly, I'm not sure. I think it was my favourite because it was what I needed to read at the time. I was a little bit like Remy in high school and dated and had crushes on lots of boys (it was all quite innocent, I assure you) and didn't really know what a successful relationship looked like. I still love this one but I think I will reserve judgement on my "favourite" until the end of the year.

Sandy's Thoughts
This Lullaby is the basic tale of teenage love with a twist. The main character Remy Starr does not want to be in love, she doesn’t believe in it. That is until Dexter literally crashes into her life and forces her to break all of her rules and forego her checklists.
Remy is a strong female character, one of Dessen’s strongest. She is no nonsense, cynical and not afraid to speak her mind. But like all characters she is flawed. Her inability to believe that love lasts turns her into a control freak and a bitter bitch as she describes herself.
Dexter is her total opposite. He is impulsive, optimistic and a deep-seated romantic. Once she allows herself to give in to his persistence she opens her mind and her heart to the question of love. She wonders what it would be like to love so strongly that you can’t control yourself or your actions. (page 161) She reluctantly gives in and by doing so only half gives herself over to the idea that she could fall in love. She never truly understands how to do such a thing. To her love is chaotic, it means impatience, disorder and an inevitable ending with heartbreak for those caught unawares.
Dexter ultimately has to be the one to prove that love is worth it and in the end that will take nothing but time.
The theme behind this story is timing. Everything has its own time and place in love and in life. The story begins with the ending of one time and the beginning of another, it takes place in what Dessen calls the in between. Timing begins the story of Remy and Dexter. Timing is a factor in bringing them together and tearing them apart. Decisions or actions that may seem minor or insignificant shape life on a daily basis and play a big role in all types of relationships
Dessen shows us that at the right time, with the right person Remy is able to break down the wall that her parents helped to build and find the love that she deserves. Her father may have created the precedent of men leaving while her mother reinforced it with her revolving door of husbands but Dexter can see through it because his own mother has had six husbands. He breaks down her wall by breaking all her rules. He gets involved in her life in a way no other boy has by being a determined and stable presence with a little bit of quirk for good measure.
“This Lullaby”, the song her father left her is another constant, one she has lived with all her life. When Dexter plays it that first time it freaks her out enough to end their relationship before it gets too serious. It scares her into hiding once again. “This Lullaby” becomes the soundtrack of her life, especially when she deals with men who barely know her and relationships that can never last. By the end of the book she has made peace with the song and with its meaning. Dexter has become her constant and “This Lullaby” itself has taken on a new meaning, that of hope for the unknown future.

Next month...Dreamland. I'm looking forward to this one because I don't really remember much of it, other than it's one of Dessen's heavier novels.

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