Posted by: Vanessa Barneveld | January 14, 2010

Summertime Blues

It’s the height of summer where I am now and I’m sittin’ here chillin’. Or rather, sitting here feeling rather chilly in this cold (for January) weather. Good thing I’ve got more than just a few good books to keep me toasty. One of them is Sarah Dessen’s THAT SUMMER, which was her debut novel, first released in 1996.

At fifteen, Haven is almost six feet tall, growing at a rate of an inch per hour. Practically. Her TV presenter dad is building a version 2.0 of his family with another woman. Mum is always out with a new BFF, and her sister Ashley is about to marry boring and dependable Lewis. Everyone seems to be moving forward except Haven. She wishes she could turn back the clock and relive an idyllic summer spent at the beach with a guy called Sumner Lee.

At times I was frustrated by Haven inability to accept change. She seemed determined to let life happen to her, rather than be an active player. But I did cheer for her in a scene where she finally bit back at a spiteful customer in the shoe shop where she worked.

THAT SUMMER is set in the ‘80s, from what I can tell, before iPhones, Twitter and emails. The book plods along at a good pace and Haven comes up with some achingly funny insights about her family. It’ll have you thinking about happy times in your life that you want to hang onto forever.

For your chance to win a copy of THAT SUMMER, post a comment about your idea of a perfect summer. The winner will be announced next week!


  1. Heya, Miss V! Does this mean I win the junior Golden Rooster? Yay, me! I hope he’s not cheep!

    What a great post. That book sounds really great! And I love the cover.

    Actually there’s a really nice song about summer by Josh Pyke that they’re playing on Pay TV at the moment. It’s got exactly that aching nostalgia for the perfect summer that this book seems to contain. Gets me every time I hear it.

    Actually I think it’s going to be yukky and sticky in Australia – I’m got the aching nostalgia for cold weather right now! 😉

  2. Anna! The junior Golden Rooster is yours! It’s especially appropriate as the sun is struggling up over the horizon right now. Thanks for dropping in!

    Isn’t that cover gorgeous? The Aus Penguin editions of Sarah’s backlist all feature those eye-popping colours on a black background. Very striking.

    I hope you get some decent pool time today!

  3. Hi Vanessa-Since my daughter was a toddler every year we have gone away with another family for a week at the beach. Just swimming, reading and relaxing. It was always bliss, even if the weather wasn’t perfect. This year the other family couldn’t come-the mother, my friend, is very ill. For the first year my teenage daughter went away for a week to the beach with another family-her own friends. I’ve found myself remembering all those years of those summer holidays with nostalgia knowing those times have passed…
    I alway recommend my daughter to read YA-to know that she is not alone in her angsty teen feelings. Keep on writing YA!

  4. Hi, Kandy. I’m so sorry your friend was too ill to join you at the beach this time. It must’ve been difficult for you to see your daughter go her own way. I remember going off on trips without my family as soon as I was old enough!

    Enjoy the rest of your summer. Although, it seems wintry outside right now!

  5. Vanessa, you are so bad for my download capacity with those tempting You-Tube videos!

    Sarah’s book has the most gorgeous cover! And the Haven’s story sounds like a lovely tale of nostalgia as well as a teenager’s struggle to find her way.

    As for my perfect summer – it would be one that’s not too hot! Actually, I want a Goldilocks summer – one that’s “just right”! Temperatures during the day of 25-30 degrees C and an overnight temp of 15 degrees maximum! Yep, that would be my perfect summer!

  6. Oops, that should have been “And Haven’s story…”

  7. Sorry about the download limit, Sharon! I actually had to upgrade mine the other night because of my inordinate amount of YouTubing. Did you spot the Harlequin romance novel in the ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ clip?

    I like a mild summer too, but with a max of 25 and 40% humidity.

    Thanks so much for stopping by in the midst of your new blog launch! I LOVE the LoveCats!

  8. I DID spot the Harlequin novel, Vanessa, and I almost said “tsk, the poor girl should have been reading a Medical Romance and then everything would have gone swimmingly!”

    But I managed to resist! Aren’t you proud of me! LOL

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the LoveCats launch! It’s been such fun!

  9. Hee-hee! Surely they could’ve thrown in a watersports emergency.

  10. while everything was going swimmingly so our hero and heroine could have saved the day! LOL

  11. My perfect summer would be to round up my clique from school and have a girls week out 😀 Sigh. I miss them.

  12. Hi, Llehn! A week out with your besties sounds fabulous. Sometimes one night just isn’t enough.

    I recently attended my high school reunion (which I never thought I’d do) and had a ball with my old clique of girls. I wish we had more time together.

  13. summer time blues fix for january
    contest for YA beginning of a novel

  14. […] little. The contest winner announcement is well overdue! Thanks to all who entered the Sarah Dessen ‘Last Summer’ draw. ANNA CAMPBELL, this fabu book is […]

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