I love Sarah Dessen. She has a lovely variation of the girl-meets-boy, classic teen romance storyline that always keeps me coming back for more. I haven’t read her newest book, The Moon and More, yet… but I’m sure it will fit this formula!
Sarah Dessen Summer Romance Formula
That Summer, Keeping the Moon, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, and Along for the Ride all take place during summer vacation.
+ Summer Job…
Halley from Someone Like You works at Milton’s Market with her best friend Scarlet.
Colie from Keeping the Moon gets a job at the Last Chance diner with Nathan.
Macy from The Truth About Forever works at the library, then gets a job at Wish Catering with Wes.
+ Divorced Parents (1 Famous Parent)…
That Summer – Haven’s parents are divorced and her father is remarrying the local TV weather woman.
Keeping the Moon – Colie’s mom is single and a well-known exercise guru.
This Lullaby – Remy’s deceased father was a famous musician who wrote a song about her. Her mother is a novelist.
Along for the Ride – Auden’s father is a novelist, who has remarried.
Divided by 1 Quirky Guy
Norman (Keeping the Moon) is a long-haired artist whose parents kicked him out of the house; he collects sunglasses.
Dexter (This Lullaby) is in a rock band whose big hit is the song “Potato Opus.”
Wes (The Truth About Forever) is another artist, instead of painting like Norman, he does metal sculpture.
Owen (Just Listen) is really into music and works as a DJ for a radio station
Eli (Along for the Ride) is an insomniac
Dave (Whatever Happened to Good-bye) is a prodigy who decides to attend a public school just for the experience
Toss in a few Easter eggs…
= a sweet love story 🙂
BONUS: The Sarah Dessen After-School Special Formula
1 Famous Parent/Guardian
Lock & Key – Ruby’s brother-in-law was the creator of UMe (the Sarah Dessen version of Facebook)
What Happened to Good-bye – McLean’s father is sorta like a Chef Gordon Ramsey
+ Serious Issue (sometimes x 2)
Someone Like You deals with teen pregnancy and death; Dreamland deals with abusive relationships and drug abuse; Just Listen deals with eating disorders and rape; Lock & Key deals with parental neglect; Whatever Happened to Good-bye deals with identity.
+ Missing Person
In Dreamland, Caitlyn’s sister goes missing. In Lock & Key, Ruby’s mother disappears.
+ School Year
All of the above novels take place during the school year.
=a not-too-heavy examination of various social issues, with a hopeful ending
3 thoughts on “The Sarah Dessen formula(s)”
I love Sarah Dessen as well! Easy and fun books to read. I did notice, though, that Dreamland and Someone Like You didn’t really fit in the mold of the other books maybe cause they were some of her earlier ones. They seemed to have a more serious tone, and in both of them, the girl didn’t end up with the boy, like most of her other ones though. Really enjoyed this post!
Very clever!! Formulas work as long as the characters are richly developed … though, I work hard at writing outside a formula or maybe I’m creating my own!!