Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.
This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.
Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Wow. It's so, so, so, so good. I loved this book. It's so hard to read about such a sad story though, it hurt me more than any book did in a while, if not ever. I was sobbing at some point and there were other times all of my body hurt, even though I couldn't cry. It's incredibly sad, but I'm glad it gets better.
Having read two or three of Dessen's novels, I was expecting this one to be fluffy, with romance and one or two small issues. Well, let me tell you, the issue mentionned in this book is probably the worst thing ever. I was absolutely not expecting something this traumatic or sad, so it completely destroyed me.
I loved this book's characters and how the good ones reacted to Annabel's story. Owen was my favorite, expecially since his care for Annabel kept melting my heart, compensating for the sadness I was reading about. He made me smile, with his adorable sister and his love for music, and I loved his honesty.
Once again, Dessen created a character I could totally relate to. While I haven't experienced anything like Annabel, we share many personality traits, which is why it hit me when Owen told her he absolutely never lies. Like Annabel, I'm always a bit too nice and I hate saying hurtful things, so little white lies are part of my life. I don't hate confrontation as much as she does (I kind of like it, once in a while), Owen's words still made me think a lot about my entire life and every single lie or omission I can say without thinking about it. I now realize there's no way to always be nice, so I'm trying to get better, just like Annabel.
All of Dessen's books have one similarity, it's that they all have great families. Maybe not in the fact that they're perfect, but more in the sense that they're realistic and loving. This book isn't just about a love story, or about a traumatic experience, it's about every single part of Annabel's life, including her family. I love it when authors include family members a lot in their story, because family is important. Her sister's issues are ones that I had to deal with in my family, so I can completely understand how Annabel feels. I loved seeing how she Evolved and it gave me hope for the future.
Overall, this book is awesome. It has everything you could ask for: romance, some more serious stuff, family, love, music, everything. I highly recommend it. It's definitely my favorite book from Sarah Dessen so far.
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